Cougars Coilton Gets Tough on Defense

Weston Ranch beat St. Mary’s last Saturday, 57-55. The victory over the Rams put the Cougars into tomorrow night’s game against St. Patricks St. Vincent, where the two schools will play for the CIF State Boys Basketball Championship for the Northern Region. In a thriller, Weston Ranch staved off two late rallies by St. Mary’s and punched their ticket to the Regional Final against St. Patricks St. Vincent.

Using an 11-0 run to start of the game, the Cougars looked to be in control, and the road to tomorrow’s game in Vallejo was a foregone conclusion. The Rams couldn’t answer the Cougars’ pressure and couldn’t keep up the fast pace of play. Gavin Wilburn knocked down a 3-pointer at 7:33 (to go with his five points) in the first quarter, Jordahn Johnson played well under the basket and scored six, Donjae’ Lindsey was a perfect 4-4 from the free-throw line, and Mi’Son Coilton rounded out the scoring with three points. Fast forward to the end of the first quarter, and Weston Ranch had a comfortable 18-7 lead. That comfort was soon to be short-lived.

St. Mary’s opened and closed the 2nd quarter by outscoring, out hustling, and by taking advantage of a suddenly cold Weston Ranch shooting effort. The Rams settled down and slowed it down, something the Cougars are not used to seeing out of their opponents. Outscoring Weston Ranch 15-7 in the second quarter still had the Cougars out in front, but it was now 28-22 at the halftime break. Early momentum shifted, and the Rams, although down by six, had the Cougars in a fix offensively and a lockdown defensively. Something had to give.

As the third quarter began, the Rams went on the attack again and grabbed their first lead of the game at 5:52 in the third, 32-30. Weston Ranch could only manage one basket during this time, and the Rams looked ready to pull away as the Cougars struggled again on offense. Their 14 points in the 3rd quarter was better than their 10 points in the second quarter, but St. Mary’s put up 19 in the 2nd. However, this time it was the Cougars who settled down and adjusted to the slower pace. From the time it was 32-30, both teams exchanged baskets, and the Cougars took a 1-point lead into the fourth and final quarter.

Enter Mi’Son Coilton. The junior guard put the Cougars on his back in the fourth quarter and led the Cougars down the stretch. He was everywhere offensively and defensively. Coilton scored seven of the Cougars’ final 15 points. His steal and reverse layup at 4:25 put the Cougars up 51-49. The Cougars then went on to build a 6-point advantage, leading 55-49 at 3:49. But, it was what he did on the game’s final play that will go down as one the biggest plays in the basketball program’s history.

Leading 57-55 with 49 seconds left in regulation, the Cougars had the ball. They were poised to run down the clock and get a last-second shot before the shot clock expired. Wilburn ended up with the ball and drove the lane, but missed. The ball bounced out of the hands of Jordahn Johnson and into the hands of the Rams, and they raced back up the court with a chance to tie or win. But it was Coilton, as mentioned above, who had the final say. He intercepted a cross-court pass and sealed the victory for the Cougars. The Cougars mobbed Coilton as he tossed the ball into the air and was joined by most of the students who were in attendance.

“That steal was big,” Coilton said after the game. “I read his eyes (Ram Josh Dacruz) and reacted. At the end of the game, I just looked up and saw all the zeros.”

Any time a team gets into a tournament like this, it is to be expected defense wins games. In the case of the Cougars last Saturday, thank goodness for that.

The Cougars will take on #2 St. Patricks St. Vincent Tuesday night, March 10, in Vallejo. Game time is scheduled for 7 pm.