Just one night after blowing a shot at earning at least a share of its first Valley Oak League championship, Weston Ranch’s girls basketball team still had reason to play with purpose in the regular-season finale at Sierra Thursday.
The Cougars rolled to a 52-35 victory. It was their 20th win of the season, a landmark never before reached by the eighth-year program’s varsity squad.
On Wednesday, Weston Ranch (10-4, 20-7 overall) was knocked out of title contention via a disappointing 57-48 loss to league-leading East Union, which looks to claim the outright title tonight against second-place Manteca.
“How are we going to bounce back after a loss that? It was a tough one,” said Weston Ranch coach Chris Bauer. “We didn’t come out and play our game. Would that lead to a letdown tonight?
“I thought the girls came out and answered all of my questions right away.”
Standout senior Jazmin Strane led the early charge and finished with 14 points, 21 rebounds and four steals. Emoni Wilson added 12 points and six steals, while Leticia Infante chimed in with 10 points.
Shelby Shirron, one of five Timberwolves recognized on senior night, paced Sierra with 10 points, six rebounds and six steals. Senior classmate Kelly Paredes contributed nine points.
Weston Ranch dominated the boards and a relied on its stifling pressure defense to jump out to an 11-1 lead. Sophomore Celine Barber rattled in a 3-pointer, the first field goal of the night for Sierra (3-11, 5-21), with 1:35 left to make it 11-4 after the first quarter.
The Cougars later opened the second half with a 13-4 flurry to stake their largest lead of the game, 43-17. From that point forward, Bauer rotated in different reserves in an effort to have them playoff ready.
“We’re trying to get momentum (going into the playoffs),” Bauer said. “We made sure that kids had minutes on the court so that when we have starters on the bench next week there wouldn’t be too much of a drop-off.
“Overall, our tempo was a lot better tonight that (Wednesday), and we rebounded a lot better than we have the past four or five games.”
Weston Ranch entered the week at the No. 6 spot in the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division III playoff power ratings and will likely end up with a home seed for a second straight year. The playoffs tip off next Tuesday.
Weston Ranch 61, Sierra 32
Aaliyah Thomas poured in 17 points for the VOL champion Cougars (14-0, 23-3), who finished undefeated in conference play for a second consecutive year. Their only losses of the season came against private-school powers St. Mary’s, Brookside Christian and Modesto Christian.
Brianna White tallied 13 points and nine rebounds. Vanessa Contreras added 12 points, 13 boards and four steals.
For Sierra, Kristen Maestretti turned in nine points and five rebounds, and Haley Silva recorded eight points.
Weston Ranch 51, Sierra 30
The freshman Cougars (14-0, 20-3) also defended their 2011 title.
Elisabeth Alexander scored nine points but accumulated a whopping 18 blocks on the defensive end. Terese Haley led the attack with 12 points.