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Prep basketball: West Ranch hits groove

Sharp offense lifts Wildcats to a blowout of Panorama

Posted: December 8, 2010 10:53 p.m.
Updated: December 9, 2010 4:55 a.m.

West Ranch’s Brian Polynice jumps toward the basket as Panorama High’s Alexander Magana, right, defends on Wednesday during the Canyon Classic at Canyon High School.

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Early in the season, some teams are still trying to settle into a groove.

In its second game of the year, West Ranch’s offense looked plenty settled.

The Wildcats dominated Panorama 82-36 in the Canyon Classic boys basketball tournament at Canyon High School on Wednesday.

West Ranch (2-0) didn’t leave much doubt about the game, quickly and aggressively finding open shots against an overmatched Panorama team.

“We were just being unselfish with the ball,” said West Ranch forward Ako Kaluna. “We were moving the ball around really well. If we had a great shot, we’d pass it up for a better shot.”

Kaluna finished with 16 points despite being subbed out early in the second half.

The Wildcats shot 51 percent from the floor and made 11-of-22 shots from beyond the arc.

The Pythons made 37 percent of their field goal attempts.

Most of West Ranch’s 3-point attempts were wide-open shots set up by quick passes around the perimeter. The ball movement kept Panorama (4-6) off balance throughout the game.

Shooting guard Justin Ballenger led the Wildcats with 20 points, 17 of which came in the first half.

“On any given night, one of four people can carry us,” said West Ranch head coach Sean Legaux. “It’s nice to have a bunch of different guys that can score.”

West Ranch went into attack mode out of the gate and scored most of its point in the paint, leading to a 31-12 advantage after one quarter.

After that, the Pythons became vulnerable to kick-out 3-pointers, which helped the Wildcats extend their lead to 51-19 by halftime.

As much as he was impressed with the offense, Legaux said the defense needs to find its midseason form, especially with potential matchups against Foothill League opponents coming later in the week.

“We’re still playing that early, second-game-of-the-season defense,” Legaux said. “We’re not in the right position right now. When we play the big boys we need to be better.”

Picking up right where it left off, West Ranch opened the third quarter with an 11-2 run. That signaled the end of the day for the starters.

Brothers David Harris and Kevin Harris came off the bench and scored seven points apiece.

With the win, West Ranch won its pool in the tournament.

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