The Prowl

The Student News Site of Weston Ranch High School

The Prowl

The Prowl

BOYS BASKETBALL: Weston Ranch Ready for Another Test Against Grant

Weston Ranch plays Grant High School of Sacramento tonight at Weston Ranch. The Cougars face another top-level program and have another test.

One thing about boys basketball at Weston Ranch is that they haven’t ducked competition during the 2022-2023 campaign. Easily, they could have six or seven more wins had they not chosen to face high-level competition early in its schedule. But they didn’t and took their lumps.

An opening 94-66 loss to Sacramento powerhouse Inderkum was followed by five-straight losses, and the Cougars were reeling and struggling for answers. Then, after the preseason dust settled, Weston Ranch was 2-8 and limped into the SJAA.

“This season, our schedule was even more challenging, as we had several tough singles scheduled against some of the premier teams in the Sac-Joaquin Section and Nor Cal region,” head coach Nicholas Podesta said. “We took on Inderkum in our season opener and followed that up the next week against Riordan of San Francisco, one of the most talented teams in Northern California. We also had single games scheduled against Sheldon and tonight with Grant, who are both competing for section titles this season. Then, throw in our trip to Las Vegas, and we played one of the toughest non-conference schedules you could throw at a team.”

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An opening 68-65 OT SJAA loss to Edison found the Cougars clinging to hopes things will get better. And things did get better in a hurry. Since the loss to Edison, Weston Ranch has reeled off 14 straight wins, beat Edison in a rematch by 21 points, scored 100+ points three times, and averaged 76 points per game. Two of those 14 wins came against Sacramento area powers Sacramento High and Sheldon, proving the Cougars will play against top-notch competition even when rolling and could have setbacks in the loss column. However, that’s what makes your team better. All teams need to be challenged and discover how to deal with adversity. And it’s evident that the early season defeats, while tough to deal with at the time, have proven now they did indeed learn and grow.

Tonight Weston Ranch faces another challenge and will need to take another step to illustrate their learning and growth when they host two-time defending CIF Sac-Joaquin D II Champion Grant High School of Sacramento.

Tonight’s matchup is between two very similar teams. The Pacers are on a roll, just as the Cougars are. Grant is 17-8 overall and 9-2 in the rugged Metropolitan Conference, where they sit tied for first place with Monterey Trail. Like Weston Ranch, the Pacers have challenged themselves with an insane preseason schedule, and like the Cougars, Grant learned from early season losses and is playing good basketball. So, it should be an exciting night of high school basketball.

“They’re (Grant) battle-tested, having played a demanding schedule as well, and are back-to-back section champions for a reason,” Podesta said. “It’s a crucial game for playoff seeding as well, so I expect a postseason atmosphere and a lot of intensity from both teams. It should be fun.”

The Pacers don’t have any team stats listed, but they are tall (eight players 6’2″ or better), and Weston Ranch will need to find a way to deal with big players. The Cougars need to rely on their speed and pressure as equalizers. Weston Ranch has struggled with larger teams, so it will be interesting to see that part of the game develop and unfold.

There’s a lot at stake tonight for both teams. It’s a premier matchup for two programs that have taken similar roads and share common outcomes. Win or lose, Weston Ranch can hang its hats on the fact it will play the best to become the best.

“Tonight’s game will be a huge test for our team,” said Podesta. “We’re playing well right now, especially on the defensive end, and we’ll definitely need to keep that going if we’re going to handle our business at home against a really talented Grant team.”

Tipoff for tonight’s game with Grant will tip off at 7 p.m.



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BOYS BASKETBALL: Weston Ranch Ready for Another Test Against Grant