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Prep basketball: ’Cats can’t keep pace

West Ranch ousted by CIF-SS Division IIAA’s top seed

Posted: February 20, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 20, 2011 1:55 a.m.

West Ranch’s Hannah Green, front, fights for a loose ball with Rialto’s Channe’ Armstrong, left, and Brittani Walker on Saturday at West Ranch. The Wildcats lost 90-63.

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Against the top seed in its playoff bracket, West Ranch girls basketball was going to have to play nearly flawless basketball to keep pace.

In the first quarter, the Wildcats did.

After that, the high-flying, potent offense of Rialto ran its course, and ran the Wildcats out of the gym 90-63 in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division IIAA playoffs Saturday at West Ranch High School.

For the second straight year, the Wildcats were knocked out of the postseason by the division’s top seed.

In addition to their seeding, the Knights came into the game as the San Andreas League champions and averaged nearly 70 points per game.

Even with the hype, the Wildcats began the game with an equally strong offensive push and came out of the opening frame with a 19-19 tie.

“I expected to be able to keep pace with them,” said West Ranch senior Malyssa Somo. “Maybe not beat them, but at least keep pace.”

Up until around the 6:00 mark of the second quarter, West Ranch (17-10) was more than keeping up. It was leading 24-22 behind high-percentage shooting and a strong defensive effort in the paint.

The game was quickly turning into a track meet.

“I was actually inviting it,” said Rialto head coach Michael Anderson Sr. “With us being so far away, I’m not sure that anyone can keep up with us.”

At that point, Alexus Bryant had 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting. She finished with a team-high 22.

It all came tumbling down when the Knights (26-3) began exploiting a matchup issue that the Wildcats simply couldn’t solve, and that was Rialto center Denae Williams.

Her strength, size and athletic ability helped the Knights go on a 21-0 run and sprint to a 48-29 lead by halftime.

“We didn’t slow them down much, so I just knew we had to shoot well to win and we had to take care of the ball,” said Wildcats head coach Randy Smith. “What really hurt us in the second quarter was when we started turning it over.”

Rebounding became another issue for West Ranch as the Knights held a 41-17 advantage on the boards.

Fifteen of those rebounds belonged to Williams, who also posted a game-high 31 points.

“She was strong,” said West Ranch guard Cameo Carrillo. “She was really strong.”

In the second half, Rialto slowly extended its lead as it wore down the Wildcats defense with more up-tempo play.

Four players scored in double digits for the Knights, who scored outscored the Wildcats in each quarter after the first.

“We could’ve (kept up) if we didn’t let our fatigue get to us,” Carrillo said.

Junior guard Michele Arima added 12 points for the Wildcats.

A total of seven seniors played in their final high school games on Saturday.

“I was sad to see it end,” Smith said. “Seeing what they did in the first quarter, you can begin to see what we’re capable of.”

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