Cougar Boys Basketball Gets Huge Road Victory in Moraga

The Weston Ranch boys varsity basketball team got a big win yesterday over Moreau Catholic of Hayward. The team participated in the MaxPreps/De La Salle MLK Classic at Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga and took down the Mariners of Moreau Catholic 65-53.

It was a big day for the Cougars. Not only did they get to play at Saint Mary’s, but they also got a chance to showcase their resurgence after a brutal non-league schedule. Playing Moreau in this type of environment was an excellent opportunity for the Cougars to let everyone know the Cougars are rising back to the level fans expect from them. The game was also available to “live stream,” so the Cougars had a lot to accomplish.

Entering yesterday’s contest, WR had a record of 9-10 overall, but the win moved them even at 10-10. The Cougars were riding a three-game win streak, which included a big non-league win over San Leandro, and looking to use the Moreau game as a measuring stick for how they have progressed since entering VOL league play where they have run through most of the VOL. A heartbreaking 62-61 loss to Central Catholic at CC is the only blemish on their VOL record. Since that loss, the Cougars reeled off three straight wins and looked to Monday’s contest as a way of building on the team chemistry, which they struggled with at the beginning of the year.

“It was a great team effort,” said head coach Chris Teevan. “To see the intensity and eventual smiles on the guys’ faces was worth the trip. We knew we were asking a lot of these guys playing the schedule we asked them to play. It’s paying off now.”

Senior Jordahn Johnson got things going for the Cougars early in the first quarter with a hard-fought tip-in off a rebound. Johnson’s tenacity really set the tone for his teammates and sent a message to their opponents the Cougars were ready to battle.

“I feel more comfortable in my role,” said Johnson. “I’m learning how to play tougher in the middle, and it helps my team get shots.”

And shots they got. With Johnson securing the middle, Junior Mi’Son Coilton secured the outside as he electrified the crowd with several long-range 3-pointers. Coilton, a team-high 21 points, and Johnson, 13 points, kept the Cougars in front most of the first half while their teammates helped out and chipped in little by little as they found their shooting touches.

One of the teammates they were waiting on was Donjae Lindsey. Lindsey moved through the first half at a slower than average scoring pace but exploded in the second half with 17 points to finish with 21, tying Coilton for game-high scoring honors. Lindsey, a junior, got into a bit of first-half foul trouble and had a difficult time getting into a shooting rhythm as he spent some time on the Cougar bench.

“I wasn’t in a rhythm because I was on the bench,” Lindsey said. “Once I got out there on a regular shift, the shots started falling.”

As the second half moved along, it was clear the Cougars would hang on for the victory. They amassed several double-digit leads, but the Mariners chipped away in the third quarter and cut into the lead several times. Enter Johnson, Coilton, and Lindsey. All three kept the Cougars in front either through great defensive plays (Johnson had five blocks), key 3-pointers (Coilton had three), and breakaway layups (Lindsey had many).

One of the things the Cougars are doing much better right now is running the floor. Their frantic pace is tough to keep up with, but it does have some drawbacks. Playing fast means they get a lot of looks at the basket, but it also means they can get into foul trouble, which inevitably leads to the other team getting to the free-throw line. Moreau couldn’t take advantage of the free shots (the Mariners were 7-13), and shooting 53% doesn’t help when your team is trailing. Weston Ranch didn’t fare much better from the line (the Cougars were 7-15), so matching free throws allowed the Cougars the freedom to run on offense and take chances on defense, knowing they weren’t going to lose a game on the free-throw line.

But, at the end of the game, the Cougars emerged victoriously and are headed back to the VOL. The Cougars play Manteca this Wednesday, 1/22, at Manteca. The Buffaloes will go into Wednesday’s game 3-2 and pose a more significant challenge to the Cougars than the past two Cougar VOL opponents. Game time is 7 pm in Manteca.