Donjaé Lindsey and Mi'Son Coilton were among the Weston Ranch High basketball standouts to benefit from the exposure gained in the Border League tournament held in in Arizona on Oct. 23-25.
They also gained another championship.
The tandem led the Weston Ranch Jr. Cougars Basketball Club to the California Division title with a 51-50 victory over Purple Reign of Nevada, which is made up of players from Las Vegas powerhouse Durango.
The Cougars finished 4-0 that weekend, also vanquishing Rancho Solano Prep (Arizona) 82-37, Desert Mountain (Arizona) 79-70 and Big Blue 67-66 in the semifinals. Big Blue is represented by players from Cleveland High of New Mexico, the No. 2 team in that state last season, according to MaxPreps.
“They got a lot (of exposure),” Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan said. “All the games were streamed on BallerTV for the (NCAA) D1 coaches who can't be there, but D2s, D3s and NAIA coaches were there.
“That's big for guys like Donjaé and Mi'Son, for sure, but we have a couple other players who were huge for us and are now getting on the map.”
Teevan's high school squad is coming off a season in which it reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals and claimed the California Interscholastic Federation Division II NorCal Regional crown. The Cougars were denied the opportunity to compete for their first state championship, however — the CIF canceled the finals ahead of the two-day event in Sacramento because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The team has had limited practices since then, mostly outdoor conditioning over the summer. Manteca Unified allowed sports teams to begin using indoor facilities on Monday but with COVID-19 protocols still in place.
Teevan said event organizers for the Border League tournament did their part in keeping the environment safe for teams and spectators. Gyms were filled to 25 percent capacity, as spectators had to secure their seats a month in advance.
Although the event took place at several different Gilbert Public Schools district sites, the Cougars and teams in their bracket only played at Desert Ridge High.
“As a coach, I felt comfortable overseeing our athletes under those conditions,” Teevan said. “They did a very good job with all the COVID stuff.”
Weston Ranch was initially penciled in to partake in the Arizona Basketball Coaches Association Section 7 Team Camp in June but that was called off because of the pandemic. In 2019, Section 7 drew 152 teams from nine states and more than 300 college coaches.
The Border League, a club tournament similar to an Amateur Athletic Union event, consisted of four 16-team divisions and a pair of eight-team brackets (Top Flight Invite, West Coast Division) featuring nationally-renown programs and prep schools.
Teevan finally got to see his squad in action without graduated star Gavin Wilburn, the two-time reigning Manteca Bulletin All-Area MVP.
Lindsey has stepped up as one of the new primary ball handlers, averaging 24.2 points and seven rebounds. In the final, he poured in 27 points while draining 3 of 5 3-pointers. Coilton, meanwhile, showed off his all-around ability with eight points, six rebounds, six steals and three assists. For the tournament he averaged 12.5 points and five assists. Kodey Weary, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, contributed 8.5 points, five rebounds and two blocks.
Teevan is also pleased with the rest of the team consisting mostly of senior newcomers and sophomores playing up a level — Keyon Forbes, Jason Phillips, C.J. Ward, Marshawn Smith, Ke'Andre Watson, Xavion Bell and twins Elliot and Elijah Mobley.
“I knew the top-end talent was going to be there with Kody, Mi'Son and Donjaé but we have a lot of new players and we hadn't practiced outside of conditioning,” Teevan said. “I now know we go 11 deep. Those 11 dudes are good basketball players who can play at the end of the game, and they really care about defense and rebounding.
“It was a very structured event,” Teevan added about the Border League competition. “I don't know if they're like playoff games but they definitely felt like league games. It was nice to be able to test ourselves.”