Varsity Girls Basketball Wins Opener in a Thriller

The Weston Ranch girls’ Varsity came into the season with several questions to answer and lots of possibilities. Riding the wave of optimism from their new look and new hope, the Lady Cougars had everything to gain and very little to lose. The effects of the new beginning were evident last night as the Cougars took their first step towards returning the program to respectability and their first step to creating a change by defeating the Turlock Bulldogs 51-49.

After a convincing defeat at the hands of Edison High School on November 25, head coach Mike Williams had a lot of work to do to get his team ready for the opener against Turlock. Although the game against Edison technically doesn’t count towards the overall wins and losses, the defeat still stung. And Williams knew that while the team was better, they still had to figure it out.

“We made mistakes against Edison,” Williams told The Prowl. “We weren’t even close to being ready, and the girls knew it.”

Last night the Cougars traveled down to Turlock to take on the Lady Bulldogs, and it was a fight from the opening tip. Turlock, who came into the game with two games under their belts, was ready for the Cougars and got the early lead after the first quarter. Freshman Janay Holmes and Senior Jennalyn Laminero kept it close, scoring 3 points and 2 points respectively, but the Lady Bulldogs claimed the first quarter, 10-7. But, as the game progressed, it was clear the Lady Cougars were not going to go away and took the lead back as the first half expired and walked off with a 20-18 lead. Weston Ranch outscored Turlock 13-8 in the second quarter, led again by Laminero’s 5 points, Dearri Ross’s 3 points, and Holmes chipping in with another two points.

As the second half began, the energy in the gym intensified as both teams traded baskets. The Turlock Arena, filled with fans and spectators and both school’s JV and freshman teams sticking around added a playoff-type atmosphere. This time, as the clock expired and ended the third quarter, the Bulldogs took the lead back and led 33-32 and set up what would end up being an exhilarating finish. Ross stepped up again, scoring five points, and Senior Julianna Lassiter came off the bench to score three of the Cougars’ 12 third-quarter points.

“We were keeping it close,” said Williams. “We were still making mistakes, but the energy was great, and the team was working together. We’ve been talking all along about maintaining high amounts of energy and to keep playing while it’s tough. They did a great job with that.”

The fourth quarter saw the back-and-forth battle continued. As the teams traded baskets, it was clear the Cougars shared the vision Williams laid out at the beginning of the game.

“There were only two focuses going into the game,” says Coach Williams. “It was the intensity level and running the offense and their system, which lead them to do better.”

With Holmes, Laminero, and Ross piling up minutes, fans could see they were getting tired. Lassiter came off the bench again to provide a spark, collecting two steals and drawing an offensive charge foul late in the game, which allowed the Cougars to regain a possession sorely needed as the game wound down. And, clinging to a three-point lead with 11 seconds left, it looked like the Cougars could hang on. However, an intentional foul was called on Ross, who gave Turlock two free throws and the ball. Turlock made two free throws and inbounded the ball and down by one point. As the Bulldogs made an inbounds pass, the Cougars intercepted the ball, raced the other way, ultimately getting fouled, and Janay Holmes made one out of two free throws giving the Cougars a two-point lead. When the buzzer sounded, the Lady Cougars were victorious 51-49.

“Our girls battled last night fairly well, and dealt with foul trouble which lead us to go to the free-throw line 42 times,” Williams said.

For the Cougars, Freshman Janay Holmes lead the team with 16 points, six rebounds, and two blocks. Senior Zahbria Hendrix finished the game with 9 points and five rebounds. Dearri Ross added nine points, and Jennalyn Laminero finished with seven.

Up next for the Cougars is another road game at Modesto on December 10 at Modesto High School.

Janay Holmes
Dearri Ross
Jennalyn Laminero
Cougar Timeout