BASKETBALL: Cougars Drop Season Opener to Elk Grove

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After 14 long months of waiting, the Weston Ranch boys basketball team finally hit the court. The last time fans of Cougar basketball saw the team was when they defeated St. Pats/St. Vincent 62-61 to earn the CIF NorCal Division II championship. But then Covid-19 put the high school sports world on hold, and, thus, Cougar basketball had to wait until next year.

Last night, the “next year” finally happened, and the Cougars got their first shot at playing as they hosted Elk Grove High School in a non-league game. The Thundering Herd filled in for Kimball High School after Kimball declined to play Weston Ranch. It was an exciting evening as fans filed into the gym. Everyone caught a glimpse of WR’s new trophy case and got to see the updated championship banners hanging proudly on the walls. And, they were able to see the Cougars.

“It was nice to get the guys back on the court,” head coach Edward Menzel said. “Just getting the opportunity to play after so much adversity and uncertainty was the biggest reward for us.”

It was an exciting pre-game buildup, but eventually, the game had to begin, and the evening soon turned out to be a sad night for Weston Ranch. In a tense back and forth contest, Elk Grove defeated Weston Ranch 69-61.

Elk Grove (3-0) scored 14 unanswered points in the final 3:27 of the fourth quarter to hand Weston Ranch (0-1) an opening night loss and spoil the debut of interim coach Menzel. Taking over for former head coach Chris Teevan who resigned last November, and before newly hired coach Nicholas Podesta begins his tenure on June 1, Menzel is tasked with keeping the high profile program afloat.

Playing with seven players, the Cougars showed the program’s supporters the flashes of brilliance people are used to seeing. However, the lack of practice time, lack of a full roster, and demands placed on our student-athletes in May caught up with them, and Elk Grove won the game. While the Cougars held several leads throughout the night, they couldn’t hold off the Herd and faded at the end.

“We have great basketball players here at Weston Ranch,” Menzel said. “I’m still learning who we are, and it looked like we still need to get more practice time together so the games go a bit smoother.”

The Cougars will need to focus on two areas as they move forward: avoiding mistakes late on defense and free-throw shooting. The Cougars had a 10-point lead (50-40) as the 3rd quarter wound down and gave up two 3-pointers with 51 seconds left, allowing Elk Grove to cut the lead to 52-46. The Cougars didn’t help themselves at the free-throw line late in the fourth as they were trying to tie the game. The Cougars missed the front end of two separate one and one opportunities, ultimately allowing Elk Grove to build their lead to eight points, and The Herd walked off 69-61 victors.

Offensively, Weston Ranch was led by Mi’Son Coilton’s 20 points and Donjae Lindsey’s 17.

Weston Ranch will look to regroup for next week’s games against Sierra. The Cougars play the Timberwolves at Weston Ranch on May 13 and travel to Sierra on May 14.

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