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Weston Ranch suffers another heartbreaking loss to fall to 0-3
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STOCKTON — The Weston Ranch High boys varsity basketball squad fell to 0-3 in the young season, losing Wednesday to Lodi.

In the opening round of the McDonald’s Classic – Edison and Chavez are co-hosting the 16-team field through Saturday – the Cougars fell 81-78, unraveling down the stretch to the scrappy Flames.

“We let the game get away from us,” said Weston Ranch coach Ryan Bono. “We didn’t take care of the ball.

“We didn’t do the dirty work and the little things (it takes to win).”

Included was fighting and diving for loose balls, not to mention boxing out on the boards.

“That’s what Lodi did against us,” Bono added.

The Cougars have now lost by a combined seven points, suffering earlier two-point setbacks to Berkeley and Vallejo. They’ll play the loser of the Oakland-Natomas game at Chavez at 8 p.m. today.

Bono is hoping that his team can turn around its fortunes.

“We have to make a choice to outwork our opponents,” he said.

Weston Ranch jumped out to a 14-5 early lead by breaking the Flames’ full-court press for open shots and mismatches underneath the basket.

“We tried the press, zone and man-to-man (defenses) to see what works,” Lodi coach Dave Nutting, who used a 10-player rotation throughout the course of the game.

Brandon Michelucci came off the bench to help fuel the Flames’ 13-4 rally to close out the opening quarter. His bank shot knotted the game at 18-18.

The Cougars got some early 3s – Wil Cavil sank a pair from behind the arc and Zerrion Payton and Aaron Washington added one each in the second period – to keep the game close.

Daiveon Leverett threw down one of his three dunks during that stretch.

Lodi stayed in the attack mode throughout the game, with Anthony Gonsalves, Jordan Belasco and Benjamin Simi leading the charge.

Dylan Alexander, who had seven points in the first half, started to heat up offensively in the third period. He finished with a game-high 29 points.

He scored driving to the basket. He pulled up for quick jumper. And he also nailed a pair of 3s. In addition, Alexander ignited a fast break towards end of the quarter, making the pass to Payton, who, in turn, fed Leverett for the slam dunk.

Midway through the fourth period, Alexander’s basket put the Cougars up, 70-64.

Lodi went on a 10-1 run in the final three minutes. The Flames led 77-71 as Michelucci, Belasco and Colton Machado chipped in with 3s.

Payton’s three-point play kept Weston Ranch to within striking distance. He finished with 17 points.

Leverett added 14 and Cavil chipped in with six.

Simi led Lodi with 21 points. Michelucci and Belasco netted 18 and 17 points, respectively, and Gonsalves finished with 11.