Weston Ranch Hoop Dreams End at Jesuit


Sometimes, the magic runs out. After an impressive and historic 19-game win streak, an SJAA championship, and two wins in the CIF Sac-Joaquin D1 Tournament, Weston Ranch boys basketball lost to Jesuit High School, 69-52, last night at Jesuit. The Cougars competed valiantly, but the Marauders used their size, athleticism, and experience to pull away in the second half and end Weston Ranch’s dreams of hoisting another banner.

For 21 minutes and 44 seconds, the Cougars were able to match Jesuit play for play and basket for basket. It was a furious back-and-forth pace for both schools, with three ties and 12 lead changes. However, with 2:16 left in the third quarter, the Marauders grabbed what would turn out to be their biggest lead at 48-44, extended the lead to 52-44 at the end of the third quarter, and pulled away for the 17-point win in the fourth.

The Cougars scored 12-straight points in the first quarter and raced out to an early 12-2 lead in the game’s first three minutes. After that, the Marauders were stunned and struggling to find answers to the Cougars’ aggressive defense. And, like the Folsom game, Weston Ranch got stops and converted them to points. It was the great start they needed to build confidence.

“I felt we started the game with terrific intensity and energy,” head coach Nicholas Podesta said. “We jumped out early, had a great flow to our offense, and established a tempo and speed we were comfortable with defensively.”

But Jesuit seemed to settle down, adjusted, and scored the game’s following five points, cutting the lead to 14-9 at the 2:59 mark and tying it with another 5-0 run at 14-14 with 1:46 left to play in the quarter. However, Weston Ranch regrouped to take back the lead at 19-18 as the quarter ended.

The second quarter was lower scoring as both teams only netted 12 points apiece, but Weston Ranch had the lead going into halftime at 31-30. They were in a good place with the lead and comfortable exchanging baskets. It’s the style of play they were used to and prepared to play.

“Winning the tempo war early was one of our key goals and objectives, and I felt we accomplished this in the first half,” Podesta said. “Even though we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, we still made enough plays defensively and, on the glass, to keep a lead after the first 16 minutes of the game.”

As the third quarter began, both teams continued to race up and down the court. It was clear one team would have to go on another run, and whoever did would win the game. Jesuit hit a 3-pointer with 2:57 remaining in the third to improve their lead to 45-42. Weston Ranch countered with a basket and made it 45-44. Jesuit hit another 3-pointer at 2:16 to give them a 4-point, 48-44 lead, and that was the moment the Marauders took over the game. The Cougars trailed 52-44 at the end of the quarter, and that sequence seemed to take away their energy.

“We had a few challenging stretches where Jesuit made runs off offensive rebounds and capitalized on costly turnovers we were making, and they created some separation,” said Podesta. “Unfortunately, we didn’t handle adversity well the final quarter and a half and didn’t respond accordingly.”

Jesuit continued to expand its lead in the fourth, and while Weston Ranch fought desperately to claw its way back into the game, the Marauders had too much firepower, and the Cougars had nothing left to give. Weston Ranch cut Jesuit’s lead to nine points with 4:55 left in the fourth, but the Marauders controlled the tempo and extinguished any last hopes of a Cougar comeback with their aggressive and stingy defense (they held WR to 21 second-half points) and efficient offense (39 second-half points). Jesuit pulled away in the game’s final two minutes en route to the 17-point win.

Elijah Mobley had a steady night of scoring and led Weston Ranch with 18 points. Khristian Holmes chipped in 11; Elliot Mobley added 10.

It was an impressive and remarkable run by the Cougars. After beginning 2-8, Weston Ranch made adjustments, improved, and grew as a team. They collected big wins over Bullard, Sacramento, Ponderosa, Sheldon, Grant (twice), and Folsom. They won an SJAA Championship. They went on a 19-game win streak, came within 10 minutes of knocking out the #4 seed to make it win #20 in a row and #22 overall, and earn a spot in the D1 Finals. And while the loss stings, nobody can take away the heart, character, determination, and accomplishments shown and earned by the 15 guys wearing the maroon and gray.