View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


Prep basketball: Wildcats cooled in first round

West Ranch can’t figure out Ventura’s defense, 3-point shooting

Posted: February 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.

VENTURA — West Ranch boys basketball won three straight games at the end of the regular season to get here.

The hot streak had to end somewhere.

So did the 2010-11 season.

The short-handed Wildcats had no answer against intense defense in Wednesday night’s 69-48 loss to No. 1 seed Ventura in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division IIAA playoffs at Ventura High School.

What was once a close game in the first half turned into a rout after West Ranch, which was missing starting point guard Brian Polynice, went cold from long range and couldn’t hang on to the ball.

“They’re a good basketball team,” said West Ranch head coach Sean LeGaux. “They’re the No. 1 seed for a reason and we knew they weren’t going to beat themselves.”

Instead, it was West Ranch (17-10) which beat itself by making errant passes and failing to respond to high pressure by Ventura.

Before that, David Harris drained a trio of 3-pointers to help the Wildcats go 4-of-5 from beyond the arc and take a 17-16 lead after one quarter.

“I wasn’t surprised,” said Ventura head coach Dan Larson of the first quarter. “I think it took my team by surprise a little bit. I knew (West Ranch) was going to come to play.”

But when the shots stopped falling, the Wildcats did.

The Cougars (25-2) pressured nearly every inbound and every dribble made by a West Ranch player, and the resulting turnovers led to an array of easy transition points.

The biggest beneficiary was Ventura guard and leading scorer Dylan Houck, who scored 16 of his game-high 26 points before halftime.

“We have the luxury of being very deep,” Larson said. “We’re a very senior-laden team and we’re able to rotate our guards in. Not every team can do that.”

In the second frame, West Ranch was outscored 20-4, and it trailed 36-21 at the half.

“They’re very tough,” said Harris, who was the only Wildcat in double figures with 16 points. “What we had to do was match their toughness.”

After the break, West Ranch tried its best to do so, but the Cougars had an answer every time.

While transition points carried Ventura in the first half, the three-ball did the trick in the second.

Ventura made 7-of-11 shots from downtown to stave off any chance of a West Ranch comeback, especially with the Cougars’ defensive effort.

“When they put so much pressure on our guards, it was hard to get it inside to (Ako) Kaluna,” LeGaux said. “He was mad because he didn’t get the touches.”

Kaluna, a sophomore forward who has been a staple of the Wildcats’ offense this season, scored just eight points on seven attempted shots in the game.

“That was probably their game plan all along,” LeGaux said.

As West Ranch tried to amp up its offensive aggression and get the ball to the basket, Ventura countered by patiently moving the ball around the perimeter and making enough shots to maintain a double-digit lead throughout the second half.

The loss ends the career of five seniors, including starting guard Justin Ballenger, who finished with eight points.

No other Ventura player scored in double figures.

“Hopefully we will learn from this,” LeGaux said of his young team. “We talked about it in the locker room, it takes a lot of toughness to come out on the road and win a game like this.”


Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...