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’Cats press right buttons

West Ranch’s pressure defense halts the Indians

Posted: January 19, 2010 10:15 p.m.
Updated: January 20, 2010 4:30 a.m.
 
West Ranch boys basketball forced 25 Hart turnovers with a frenetic, pressing defense and withstood a late rally to hold off the Indians and win their first Foothill League game 62-56 on Tuesday night at Hart High.

“We finally came out with great energy and played great as a team,” said West Ranch junior guard Martin Flowers. “It was a great team win.”

The Wildcats (10-9, 1-2) had a 49-37 lead going into the fourth quarter, but Hart (5-15, 0-3) cut the lead to 57-56 with just under two minutes remaining, behind nine fourth-quarter points from sophomore guard Austin Maly. Maly was held scoreless through the first three quarters, but hit two three-point shots to spark a 9-0 Hart run.

“He’s our best perimeter shooter,” said Hart head coach Tom Kelly. “He’s gotta make those shots.”

The Hart rally fell short, however, as West Ranch senior guard Luke Hangen hit key free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.

Despite the exciting finish, Kelly was not pleased with his team’s performance.

“West Ranch socked us in the mouth and we didn’t respond,” Kelly said. “We didn’t start to play until the last five minutes. I wasn’t really happy with any part of the game. We’re 5-15. I’m not happy at all. X’s and O’s are irrelevant if you don’t have pride or guts. If you don’t have pride or guts, you shouldn’t be out on the floor.”

West Ranch was led offensively by Flowers, who finished with a team-high 13 points, and senior guard Elias Lucas, who finished with 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Both Flowers and Lucas drove through the Hart defense at-will, capping their drives with layups or passes to often wide open teammates. West Ranch scored 44 points in the paint.

“That’s the gameplan,” Flowers said of Wildcats’ driving ability. “If (the defense) collapses, we kick it out for an open shot. If they don’t, we can rack it all day.”

No other Wildcats scored in double figures, but 10 players scored and the West Ranch bench totaled 22 points.

Hart also was efficient on the offensive end when it wasn’t turning the ball over, shooting 50 percent from the floor.

Junior forward Cole Preston was the main offensive threat for the Indians with a game-high 16 points. Fellow junior Roman Delgado also scored in double figures, finishing with 15 points.

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