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Prep boys basketball: West Ranch breaks through

Wildcats hold off Golden Valley for first league win

Posted: January 18, 2011 10:47 p.m.
Updated: January 19, 2011 4:55 a.m.
 

Enough was enough.

West Ranch boys basketball wasn't about to lose another tight game against a Foothill League opponent.

And after losing two games by a combined four points last week, West Ranch found a way to get the upper hand, beating Golden Valley 62-56 on Tuesday night at Golden Valley High.

The Wildcats did it with the strong post play of forward Ako Kaluna, who scored 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter to lead the team.

"We made some free throws and took care of the basketball," said Wildcats head coach Sean Legaux of the final minutes.

Kaluna played strong on the glass and at the free-throw line to help West Ranch (13-6, 1-2) pull ahead from a 41-41 tie at the end of the third quarter.

"The coaches helped us out," said Kaluna, who also pulled down 11 rebounds. "We started communicating and we knew to not make fouls to stop the ball on defense."

For the Grizzlies (4-13, 0-3), it was the closest of their three league games so far. Head coach Myron Watkins saw plenty to be optimistic about.

"One thing is we grew as a team," Watkins said. "They played great today. I absolutely thought we should've won this game. We were just a couple turnovers and a couple plays away."

The Grizzlies rallied back from an 8-0 deficit in the first four minutes, tying the score at 26 apiece after James Chevious' fastbreak layup at the 3:17 mark in the second frame.

That led to a 28-28 halftime score.

Golden Valley took its first lead of the game early in the third quarter when guard Wade Rodriguez started knocking down 3-pointers.

"I kept saying ‘Well, they're not going to make the next one,' and then they did," Legaux said of the hot shooting.

Rodriguez led the Grizzlies with 17 points.

Eventually, Golden Valley did start missing, finishing at 35 percent as a team, and West Ranch took advantage.

The Wildcats found ways to beat Golden Valley's press and get the ball inside, scoring most of their points at the free-throw line in the final frame.

"We knew they wanted to get it in there to (Kaluna), and we just had no answer," Watkins said.

West Ranch shot 47 percent from the floor, but most importantly, it was able to close its first Foothill win of the season.

"That first one's huge," Legaux said. "It's not easy, especially against Golden Valley. The records don't really matter with these teams. We're kind of the new-school rivals."

 

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