GIRLS BASKETBALL: Cougars Comeback and Take Buffs to Brink

Weston Ranch’s girls basketball gave first place Manteca a scare last night and came within two points of pulling off the upset win. The Cougars came back after trailing by 15 points late in the third quarter to close the game to one point, but the Cougars couldn’t finish the miraculous comeback and fell to the Buffaloes 45-44.

After giving up 23 first-quarter points to Manteca, Weston Ranch held the Buffs to 11 points in the second, 10 points in the third, and a fantastic one point in the fourth. The Cougars chipped away at the Buffs’ lead one quarter at a time and outscored the Buffs in quarters 2 through 4, setting themselves up to tie or win as the clock ticked down. Junior Janay Holmes knocked down a long-range three-pointer to put the Cougs behind one point with seven seconds left. However, the Cougars struggled to defend the inbounds pass from Manteca, and the Buffs ran out the clock and escaped with the 45-44 victory.

“The game was tough with us missing layups and not talking on defense in the 1st quarter,” head coach Damion McMiller told The Prowl. “I am just so proud of how our girls never looked at the score but looked at each other to fight back.”

Weston Ranch was trailing 44-32 at the end of the 3rd quarter, and Manteca looked to be in total control. The Buffs were playing solid defense and didn’t allow the Cougars to get closer than 10 points. But, as the 4th quarter began, the Cougars got on an offensive and defensive roll, sparking the comeback. The Cougars got a solid second half from Vauntanique Brown, who scored nine points in the 2nd half and finished with 13. Holmes scored ten second-half points and finished with 15. But, it was Anisa Hekimian’s strong defensive presence and overall complete game that really was the spark the Cougars needed. Hekimian blocked shots, grabbed key rebounds, and made critical baskets on her way to rounding out the scoring. Hekimian finished with 10 points.

“I feel that Anisa really changed the defense and set the tone for us,” McMiller said.

The loss dropped the Cougars to 4-7 overall and 0-1 in the VOL. Losing by one was disappointing, of course, but the game did show how far the program has progressed under McMiller’s guidance and that the attitude from the team has improved.

McMiller went on to add, “At the half, it makes it a lot easier for us as coaches when the girls are holding themselves accountable for what they can do better. In one of our timeouts, the girls told each other to keep believing because our best basketball is still ahead of us. We are the New Weston Ranch Girls Basketball Program that believes in each other and know we have a chance to win every game no matter what we are up against.”

Weston Ranch will be back on the court on January 15 for a game against Central High School of Fresno. Game time is 3:30 and will be played at Caruthers High School.