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Cats Can't Slay Giants

Posted: February 20, 2008 1:30 a.m.
Updated: April 22, 2008 5:02 a.m.

West Ranch High's Malik Bradley (24) attempts a hook shot over a swarm of Eisenhower players Tuesday night at West Ranch High in the CIF-Southern Section Division II-AA second round. The Wildcats lost 60-40, ending their year.

For a stretch, it looked the No. 1 seed didn't make it anywhere near the West Ranch High gym on Tuesday night.

Eisenhower of Rialto missed or turned the ball over on its first nine trips down the floor against the West Ranch boys basketball team, while the Wildcats (19-9) were scoring with ease.

The No. 1 seed Eagles showed up quickly in the second quarter and didn't look back, defeating West Ranch 60-40 in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division II-AA playoffs.

"We just got too comfortable with the lead," said Wildcats senior Ian Lott. "We fell apart from there. We were coasting after we got out to that comfortable lead."

West Ranch opened the game with an 8-2 run and finished the first quarter with a 12-6 advantage.

A basket and made free throw by Dave Franklin to open the second quarter pushed the Wildcats' lead to nine points.

It was there that the Eagles (26-3) flipped the switch.

"It looked like nerves were a little of a problem early," said Eisenhower head coach Steve Johnson. "All year long our defense has been the key to the whole thing.

"I think we picked up our defense, got some easy baskets and that started us going a little bit."

That "little bit" turned out to be a 19-0 run over most of the second frame.

"I knew they couldn't keep missing like that," said West Ranch head coach Sean LeGaux. "When we stopped scoring and they started to make their shots, I started to worry."

Eisenhower took the lead for good at 16-15 on a basket by center David Chavarria with 4:44 remaining in the second frame. By halftime, the Eagles extended their lead to 27-19.

Franklin's free throw with 7:32 to go in the second quarter provided the only West Ranch points until Franklin converted a pair of foul shots with 1:23 left in the opening half. The junior guard scored a game-high 20 points, half of the Wildcats' total for the night.

"They brought up their intensity," Franklin said about the shift between the first and second quarters. "They were a good team. We haven't seen that good of a team before."

Eisenhower came out hot in the third quarter, opening the frame with a 12-0 run. A 3-pointer by Andrew Bock (12 points) gave the Eagles their biggest lead of the game at 39-19 with 5:57 to go in the third frame.

But the Wildcats didn't buckle.

It was Franklin who led a Wildcats comeback in the third quarter that cut the Eagles lead from 20 down to eight.

The 6-foot junior dropped back-to-back 3-pointers and Lott hit a pair of baskets to start off the run. Franklin's pair of free throws finished off the 12-0 spurt. He scored 11 points in the third frame.

Eisenhower maintained a 46-36 advantage heading into the fourth quarter and was able to extend its lead out to 20 again on a basket by Chavarria with 47 seconds left.

The loss ended the season for West Ranch, which on Friday night won the first playoff game in school history, upsetting No. 14 seed Chaffey on the road. The Wildcats also jumped from last place in the previous season to third place this year in Foothill League play, in just their second varsity season in the Foothill.

"It was a great experience," Franklin said. "A great chance to for us to get noticed in the Foothill League and get respected."

While Franklin and nine of the team's other 15 players will return, LeGaux is watching his first senior class move on.

"The program is going to be strong for years to come," he said. "And they laid the foundation."


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