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Unsung senior deserving of title he helped bring to Ranch
Weston Ranch senior Melvin Allen, right, guards East Union’s best player, TeeJay Gordon, during Wednesday’s big Valley Oak League showdown. It’s one of many tasks Allen willingly handles as the leader of the young Cougars squad.
When Melvin Allen welcomed some of the Weston Ranch basketball team’s reserve players onto the court for the final 1:09 of their 87-67 win over East Union Wednesday, Allen was still in coaching mode.

Fellow senior Cameron Turner strolled to midcourt and Allen promptly divvied out a few instructions. He told the kid not to foul and to get back on defense.

 There is one thing about being a leader that’s sort of like a prerequisite — you can never turn it off.

Allen clearly is a leader.

And the leader on the Valley Oak League champion Cougars.

It’s a tale that is rewarding for a student-athlete who is so deserving.

I mean, grinding it out through a pair of sub-.500 Weston Ranch football seasons has to be good for something.

Allen is the unrivaled leader of arguably one of the best teams in the area. When the Cougars cemented their logo amongst the area’s elite with an overtime road win over Modesto Christian, Allen decided to make his public debut as the team’s leader.

Allen scored nine points in the final quarter, tying the game at 81-81 with a beautiful put-back off of an offensive rebound.

He went on to score a clutch basket in the overtime period, taking center stage amongst a slew of sophomores who would be primary focal points on just about every team in the VOL.

“He truly means everything to our team,” Weston Ranch head coach Ryan Bono said. “He’s our best defender, he runs our team and plays the point for us and the good thing about him is he is an extension of me on the court.

“He is thinking like a coach out there and knows the dirty work that needs to happen and he does it.”

Allen is averaging over 10 points a game  but can drop 20 when the situation calls, leads the team in assists and is third on the club in rebounds per game. The Cougars depend on three underclassmen in their starting lineup, and even with the “Super-Sophs” more than carrying their weight, Allen’s role on the team is invaluable.

“Melvin has taught me how to keep my composure in those close situations,” Cougars leading scorer sophomore Dylan Alexander said. “He has guided me through everything pretty much. He preached to me about stepping up on defense; he’s been our go-to guy at the end of the game all year. Every time he is on the court he is going 100 percent, and I try and model myself after him.

“He is the leader on this team, hands down.”

His respect does not come in vain, Allen has earned it. It’s the respect that comes from players who only give it to a certain few. This respect has little to do with skill and more to do with passion. Seeing a guy do it the right way eventually become contagious.

“I have just always let them know that no matter how good you are you can never get to the top without pushing yourself,” Allen said. “You’ll never be good, until you want to get better. I let them know that when we come to practice we have to work hard.

“They know that you cannot be good if you don’t want to work hard and they respect that.”

Allen will get to reap the priceless emotions that come with a postseason. Of course, Weston Ranch will open its playoff run with a ton of expectations and the eyes of the entire Valley, yet this is something Allen deserves.

After being a season-long lighthouse for an abundance of young playmakers, the basketball gods had to look down and smile on Allen. He stayed the course.