The Prowl

The Student News Site of Weston Ranch High School

The Prowl

The Prowl

Road Weary Cougars Leave Las Vegas and Prepare for Next Stop in Modesto

WRHS boys basketball is off to a humbling beginning. First, the Cougars began the 2022-2023 season by taking on high school basketball powers Inderkum and Riordan and collecting back-to-back defeats. Next, they traveled to Las Vegas, hoping to capture a few wins in the Tarkanian Classic. However, Weston Ranch dropped four straight games, and upon leaving Las Vegas, the Cougars remained winless. And with the highly-competitive Modesto Christian Holiday Hoop Classic looming, Weston Ranch will face more formidable opponents and continue to chase that elusive first win of the year.

The Cougars have one unofficial win this year, a 74-37 drubbing of Gregori High School in the CIF’s Peter J. Saco Foundation Game. So, why not schedule more games like that one, collect early double-digit victories, and pad the record? Why continue with a brutal non-league schedule for the talented Cougars? While Weston Ranch has put a lot of miles on the bus so far this year, playing top competition will make the Cougars better by navigating the road less traveled.

“When scheduling, we weren’t chasing wins,” Head coach Nicholas Podesta stated. “It would have been easy to make a soft schedule and rack up easy victories. But that gives the team a false sense of reality. So instead, we wanted to see where we stack up against the top competition to help us identify who we are and what we need to do to improve and grow.”

The Cougars dropped the opening game 73-69 to Couer D’Alene of Idaho. In game two, Weston Ranch lost 83-62 to Timpview HS of Provo, UT. The next two games were overtime losses (68-62 and 58-57) to Redondo Union of Redondo Beach, CA, and Coral Glades of Coral Springs, FL. While the games were tough defeats, the Cougars competed, and had a few bounces gone their way, they easily could have left Las Vegas 2-2.

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“We went 0-4 on the week, losing three of four games by a total of four possessions combined, and two of those losses came in overtime,” Podesta stated. “We had great looks at the end of regulation in the Redondo and Coral Glades OT losses but couldn’t convert.”

“We’re not satisfied with our performance, obviously. But we’re definitely better for the experience of playing in Las Vegas. As long as we can move forward and apply the many things we’ve learned, we will hopefully have better outcomes this week in Modesto.”

And speaking of Modesto…

The Modesto Christian Holiday Hoop Classic pits the Cougars against another group of top-level talent. Not only does the tournament feature powerhouse Modesto Christian (2022 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Champions), but the tournament is also a who’s who in California high school basketball. Among the big names are Campolindo (last year’s North Coast Section Open Division Champions and Nor Cal Open Division Runner-up), Clovis West (31-2 in 2021-2022 and 14-0 in 2022), Ripon Christian (2021-2022 Trans Valley League Champions), and Vanden High School of Fairfield (2021-2022 Monticello Empire League Champions). While the Cougars will enter this year’s Classic as defending Consolation Champions, Podesta knows the road will be more arduous this year.

“The MC tournament is always a lot of fun,” Podesta stated. ” There’s a lot of local history in this event, and we’re excited to be part of it. Many of MC’s players are friends with our players, and our coaching staff has many years of friendship together. We’re happy to join them for what should be a wonderful time.”

The Cougars open the tournament against Bullard High School of Fresno and face another top-level California high school program. The Knights were 21-13 last year and are 8-5 thus far in 2022.

“We have a difficult path to the championship game and can’t look ahead to any future opponent,” stated Podesta. “We will have our hands full with Bullard. They are well-coached and will be prepared and ready to compete. But we have some work to do for sure to get a win.”

And on the road less traveled, they will make the next stop.

The tournament begins on December 27th, and action for the opening day’s games starts at 10 am. The Cougars and Knights square off at 4 pm. Tickets are $15 for adults and include any game for that particular day. Follow the action on Twitter via @WRHSJOURNALISM.







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Road Weary Cougars Leave Las Vegas and Prepare for Next Stop in Modesto