TRACY – Down by as many as a dozen points Monday, it would have been easy for Weston Ranch to roll over and give up.
But the Cougars rallied back from behind in the fourth quarter to take control of the game and eventually beat the Panthers in a 55-53 nail-biter at West High School. Weston Ranch faces co-host West or Foothill for fifth place in the Tom Hawkins/Tracy Breakfast Lions Tournament today.
The deciding factor for the Cougars Monday was free throw shooting.
“We knew that free throws were going to win the game for us,” Weston Ranch head coach Chris Bauer said. “We stepped up tonight when we had to and overcame what we needed to get the win.”
While the Cougars converted nine of 13 attempts from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, the outstanding all-around play of Timnesha Wilson got them over the hump down the stretch.
The sophomore guard converted four of six free throws and added a 3-pointer while scoring 11 of her game-high 22 points in the fourth.
A last second comeback attempt by Modesto was thwarted when Jazmin Strane stole the inbound pass ran out the remainder of the clock to secure the victory.
Strane also recorded nine rebounds and had three steals on the night.
“We had some team turmoil early but were able to come back from it,” Bauer said. “Tonight we had a chance to play everyone, and everybody stepped up.”
DeArbia Gardner scored 11 points for Weston Ranch, and Denell Fox rounded out the scoring leaders with 10 points.
Amber Bell recorded seven points on top of her four rebounds and four steals.
Led by Ashley Rose’s 17 points, East Union was able to hold off a hard-charging Los Banos squad that used its size to set up scoring opportunities.
With the victory, the Lancers move on to the tournament finals where they will take on the Napa tonight at Tracy High at 7:30.
“I think that Los Banos is a great team and we have to tip our hat to them – they came out and pressed us and gave us a game,” East Union head coach Jim Agostini said. “They’ve had a lot of great teams in this tournament in the past, and the girls are excited about the chance to play in a championship game this early in the season.
“I think that it’s going to be good big-game experience when we get into league.”
Rachel McDaniel also had a clutch fourth quarter outing for East Union, converting all four of her free throw attempts and netting a field goal to cap off the night with 12 points.
Lexy Posz netted eight points for the Lady Lancers.
Down just three going into the fourth, the Buffaloes (6-5) succumbed to Mills’ 11-0 run to end the game.
“We missed seven free throws down the stretch, turned it over and ran out of gas,” Manteca coach Andrea Hiatt said.
“We’re usually a team that can go for four quarters, but the tank was empty at the end of the game. We battled a great team for 3 1/2 quarters.”
Morgan Salsedo was Manteca’s lone scorer in double figures with 12 points.
Manteca plays Stagg for 13th place today at West. Tipoff is at 3 p.m.