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’Cats pull upset of season

West Ranch boys basketball team defeats previously undefeated in league Canyon thanks to balance

Posted: January 26, 2010 10:14 p.m.
Updated: January 27, 2010 4:30 a.m.

The Wildcats were done with coming close.

West Ranch was ready to take this one.

With impressive pressure and help from an outside marksman, West Ranch boys basketball took charge late in the fourth quarter and notched a big 57-52 win at Canyon on Tuesday.

The Wildcats were also trying to shake off a last-second 59-57 loss to Golden Valley on Friday.

“To bounce back after a game like (Friday’s) and play well shows that this team’s got character,” said West Ranch head coach Sean LeGaux. “It showed their mental toughness.”

The Wildcats also got another big boost from a surprising source. Relatively quiet for the first half of Foothill League play, sophomore Dave Harris exploded for 13 points – 12 from the 3-point line – in the sophomore’s first double-digit scoring effort of the season.

It was the team’s second such find in as many games, as 6-foot-4-inch freshman Ako Kaluna also contributed big post play for West Ranch (11-10, 2-3) in only his second game since being promoted to the varsity squad.

“Key guys stepped up and they started to get the pressure off of me, and that helped us get going,” said West Ranch forward Martin Flowers. “Every time I drove and kicked out to (Harris), I knew he was going to make it.”

West Ranch raced out to an early lead behind outside shots from Harris, Elias Lucas and Luke Hangen.

Both teams had trouble keeping possession due to turnovers, but West Ranch stayed in front by matching the physical play of the Cowboys (15-6, 4-1).

The bump-and-run style continued into the half, and Canyon managed to knot it up 26-26 at the break thanks to strong rebounding.

Canyon’s Darnel Haggerty helped his team with a handful of second-chance opportunities, finishing with seven points and 10 rebounds.

But the Wildcats repeatedly dialed in from beyond the arc and shot nearly 50 percent from the 3-point line.

West Ranch led 43-36 with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter before Flowers went to the bench with his fourth foul. Flowers and Lucas also added 13 points for the Wildcats.

On the ensuing possession, Kaluna picked up a defensive rebound and was fouled, which put Canyon in the bonus with roughly six minutes remaining.

Canyon’s Wesley Bartole did his best to get his team back in it, but with his teammates in foul trouble and unable to match West Ranch from beyond the arc, the Cowboys couldn’t close the gap. Bartole scored 17 points and added six rebounds.

By the fourth quarter, both teams were in foul trouble, and Canyon’s struggle from the  charity stripe began to prove costly. The Cowboys missed five critical free throws in the fourth quarter.   

When Haggerty fouled out with three minutes remaining, it was clear the Cowboys were in trouble. Flowers capitalized by hitting two free throws  to put West Ranch up 49-47.

A 3-pointer by Canyon’s Kris Quant left his team trailing 53-52 with a minute left, but it was the Cowboys’ last stand.

Possession  back and forth twice, and a last-second 3-pointer by Canyon’s Coley Apsay fell short.  West Ranch’s Anthony Yumul caught the rebound and hit two free throws to secure the win.



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