Boys Basketball Begins 2022-2023 Tonight Against Inderkum


Richard Banks, Elliot Mobley, Khristian Holmes, and Elijah Mobley

Weston Ranch boys basketball begins its 2022-2023 season against Inderkum High School of Sacramento tonight in the Fortune Academy Showcase Season Opener. The Cougars and Tigers will meet in the Showcases’ final game hosted by Fortune School of Elk Grove. The tip-off is scheduled for 6:30.

Last year, the Cougars went into the season with a new head coach and many questions to answer. Both head coach Nicholas Podesta and his Varsity program were young. Both were coming off a Covid-19 shortened season and thus inexperienced at the Varsity level. Both were coming off a very long break and hadn’t coached or played in a very long time.

However, Podesta and the Cougars answered the questions by finishing the year 19-11, 10-2 in the Valley Oak League (finishing as VOL champions), and a Round-One win in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. The VOL title was the fifth and final championship they will win in the VOL as the Cougars compete in the San Joaquin Athletic Association (SJAA) beginning on January 4th when Weston Ranch hosts Edison.

“Last season, we had a very young and experienced group,” Podesta told The Prowl from the basketball offices. “We dealt with our fair share of adversity to begin the season, and then we really came together to play well in the VOL last season. We hope to build off this momentum and carry it into a challenging pre-league schedule.”

And speaking of the schedule, Weston Ranch will again face not only the area’s best basketball programs but some of the top programs in the Nation. The Cougars are becoming regulars at local showcase tournaments, which attract great programs. After tonight’s game, Weston Ranch will play next week in the Nor Cal Tip-Off Classic hosted by Dublin High School against Bay Area power Riordan. Finally, the Cougars will get an opportunity to play against National talent when they take a trip to Las Vegas to play in the Tarkanian Classic in late December. It’s a brutal pre-season schedule. But, like his predecessor Chris Teevan, Podesta wants the Cougars to face the best early to help meet the best later in the postseason.

“This season, our schedule is even more challenging, as we have several tough singles scheduled against some of the premier teams in the Sac-Joaquin Section and Nor Cal region,” Podesta said. “We take on Inderkum in our season opener and follow that up next week with Riordan of San Francisco, one of the most talented teams in Northern California. We also have single games scheduled against Sheldon and Grant, who both should be competing for section titles this season. Finally, in December, we will participate in the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas in one of the more challenging brackets and return to the Modesto Christian Holiday Hoops Classic.”

The Cougars will have one of their deepest rosters in recent memory: nine seniors, three juniors, and two sophomores. Weston Ranch seniors Xavion Bell, Khristian Holmes, and twins Elijah and Elliot Mobley will garner the most attention. In addition, junior Richard Banks and Sophomore Darion Lilly will look to build on their breakout seasons. Elijah Mobley averaged 24 points per game, was named the VOL Player of the Year for last season, and has the potential to increase that number this year. Holmes was named First Team All-VOL and averaged 16 points, seven rebounds, and five assists per game. Elliot Mobley was named to the 2nd Team for All-VOL and was among the Nation’s leaders in charges taken. Junior Richard Banks averaged three steals and one block per game and was named to the VOL’s 1st Team for defense. Most importantly, Xavion Bell, who led the Cougars in 3-point field goal percentage at 31%, will be looked upon to provide discipline and leadership for the Cougars. While Bell doesn’t get the stats, the intangibles he brings to the Cougars are immeasurable, and his unselfish play helped his teammates get the attention.

The Cougars will again look to run everywhere and apply non-stop pressure. Using different rotations for short intervals was a big help for Weston Ranch last year, and the relentless play wore down opponents. It will be fun to see if that holds for the upcoming year.

“I’m excited to see how this group continues to gel together and improve,” Podesta said. “We have a deep senior class led by Xavion, Jordan Henard, Khristian, Elijah, and Elliot. We also expect significant contributions from other returners like junior Richard and Darrion Lilly. I really like our roster for this season and beyond.”

The opening tip for tonight’s game against Inderkum is at 6:30. Fans should be aware the game is the seventh game of the day. Thus the start time could be a little later. The address for Fortune Pavillion Gym is 10420 Big Horn Boulevard in Elk Grove.

Follow live game action via The Prowl’s Twitter @WRHSJOURNALISM.

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