Varsity Basketball Get Two Wins in Clovis West Nike Invitational

Weston Ranch High School boys basketball logged a lot of miles last week. The Cougars traveled down to Clovis to play in the Clovis West Nike Invitational three times and returned to Weston Ranch when the road trip was over with a 2-2 tournament record. The Cougars faced some of the toughest competition in the San Joaquin Valley, and to say they were pleased with the result is a mild understatement.

“If you told me back in the Fall when we scheduled this tournament that we’d be 2-2 with our only losses to Clovis West and Modesto Christian, I’d have been happy with that result,” said head coach Nicholas Podesta.

The Cougars are young and inexperienced at the Varsity level. At times, they show flashes of seasoned veterans, but in actuality, they are still learning how to be a team, work within Podesta’s style of play, and deal with some early season growing pains. Playing in the high-powered Nike Invitational was an excellent opportunity for the Cougars to measure their progress thus far and examine what improvements they can still make before heading into the competitive VOL.

“Our team showed a lot of growth in the four Clovis Tournament games,” Podesta said. “The first half of game one was rough for our guys. We looked very young and like we didn’t belong in the event. However, we turned things around at halftime and looked much better in the second half. We got a little better with each passing period, gradually improving throughout the event.”

After dropping game one to the host Clovis West 94-71, the Cougars picked up quality wins over Edison (73-64) and Hoover (78-59), both of Fresno. The victories set up a showdown with Modesto Christian for the tournament’s 2nd Place Championship. Again, the Cougars played well, but Modesto Christian finished off Weston Ranch 88-74, and the Cougars returned to campus with a respectable 2-2 tourney record.

“We played Modesto Christian tight throughout the contest, leading after the first quarter and locked in a one-possession game at halftime,” Podesta said. “They made a big run in the 3rd quarter, but we fought back until the end, and I was very pleased with our effort.”

Elijah Mobley averaged 27 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals over the four-game tournament and was named to the All-Tournament team.

The Cougars (4-5) will get a much-needed rest from traveling before retaking the court on December 22 against Sacramento High School at home. They will get another shot at some of the area’s best when they play in the highly-visible and competitive Modesto Christian Holiday Classic. The MC classic will feature another “who’s who” of local basketball schools, including Bullard (Fresno), Durango (Las Vegas), Clovis West, Gregori (Modesto), Edison (Stockton), and the host Crusaders.

So, the Cougars will get to be road warriors again later this month. Hopefully, the shorter trip will be a welcome change, and a nice end to their challenging non-league schedule before opening Valley Oak League play on January 4 against Oakdale.

 

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