For three quarters, Sierra played like a team desperate for a win that could propel it a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth.
The fourth quarter belonged to Weston Ranch.
Sierra gave the host Cougars reason for worry while taking a one-point lead into the final period, but Weston Ranch put its speed to good use to run away with a 62-46 victory.
The Cougars (10-2, 15-8 overall) trailed 36-35 before outkicking Sierra (3-9, 7-17) with a 27-10 spurt in the fourth.
“We played a great 26 minutes of basketball, then (Weston Ranch) stepped it up and I think we may have just ran out of gas,” Sierra coach Steve Unterholzner said. “There wasn’t a whole lot left in the tank, but we played with a lot of heart and didn’t give up.”
“Most of (Weston Ranch’s) points in the fourth quarter were off steals and fastbreaks and second-chance points. That just kind of wore us down.”
Weston Ranch had four players in double figures and was led by sophomore Elisabeth Alexander’s 16 points. Brianna White contributed 15, and Aljanea Brown and Emoni Wilson had 10 apiece.
Sierra freshman guard Kayla Wilson led all scorers with 20 points. Celine Barber pumped in 11.
Kimball 49, Lathrop 39
In Tracy, the injury-ravaged Lathrop (4-9, 9-16) did well to keep pace with the playoff-bound Jaguars (9-4, 17-8).
Already without starters Briana Fernandez (knee) and Taylor Conley (knee), the Spartans lost Jamie Metcalfe for the night with a wrist injury. That didn’t stop them from competing, however.
Loreal Taylor nearly posted a triple-double with her 17 points, 14 rebounds and seven steals. She was rewarded for her activity by earning trips to the free-throw line, where she was 11 of 16. Jazlyn Simon added 16 points for Lathrop.
“The girls stepped up and played high-caliber basketball against a good team,” Lathrop coach Ed Fang said. “We’re fighting through adversity, but the girls did not give up and that’s all we could ask.”
Ripon 49, Hilmar 36
At Hilmar, the Indians (10-1, 21-4) got themselves one step closer to earning their first conference championship since 2006.
Ruth Waters accumulated 18 points, six rebounds and three steals to lead the way. Tia Sidtikun contributed 17 points and 12 rebounds. Kelsey Alexander also pulled down 12 boards, and Haylee Fannin chipped in seven points.
Ripon ends its regular-season run against Orestimba next Monday. A win guarantees it a co-championship shared with Modesto Christian, which the Indians upset this past Tuesday while ending the Crusaders’ 98-game league winning streak.
Ripon Christian 59, Gustine 28
At Gustine, Ripon Christian (12-1, 18-6) shook off a lackluster start and rode the play of its post players to gain full control.
Cassidy DeRousse produced a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double, and Carly Tillema came up a rebound shy of achieving the same as she finished with 10 points. Rachel DeVries contributed nine points and seven rebounds.
The Knights led 8-5 after the first quarter before a 22-9 second and 19-5 third pulled them away. They can secure a second straight SL co-championship with a win against visiting Mariposa on Monday.
Ripon Christian 42, Gustine 37
At Gustine, the Knights (13-0 SL, 18-8 overall) secured their third straight outright championship, but it didn’t come easily.
Second-place Gustine, playing for a two-way share of the title, tied it at 37 with about three minutes remaining, but Elisabeth Regusci clutched up for RC by hitting one of her two fourth-quarter 3-pointers and later sinking two free throws for her team’s final points. She finished with 12 points to lead the way.
Jessica Van Vliet contributed 10 points and seven rebounds. Michaela Aimone amassed 14 rebounds while scoring six points.
Weston Ranch 53, Sierra 31
The Cougars’ march to VOL perfection continued with Thursday’s thumping of Sierra. Weston Ranch (12-0 VOL , 21-5 overall) began with a 20-4 run and broke away for good with a 21-2 third-quarter barrage.
Victoria Gulley racked up 14 points and six steals in the win. Shayla Moore contributed 12 points and six rebounds, and Crystal Hernandez chimed in with 11 points.
Weston Ranch 49, Sierra 37
Weston Ranch (9-3) jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back as it went on to deliver Sierra’s first blemish of the season.
Sianne Singharath fired 22 points to go with four steals to pace the Cougars. Elysia Hernandez added eight points, eight steals and four assists.