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Foothill League boys basketball: Wildcats up to par

Foothill League-leading West Ranch handles Golden Valley

Posted: February 1, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 1, 2012 1:55 a.m.

In its first game since taking sole possession of first place in the Foothill League, the West Ranch boys basketball team came out in the first quarter on Friday like a team determined not to look past last-place Golden Valley.

The Wildcats opened the game on a 16-point run and never trailed in a 55-46 victory at Golden Valley High School.

But the game was close over the final three quarters, as the Grizzlies got within single digits at halftime and again in the final minutes.

Part of the reason for West Ranch’s struggles may have been a matchup with second-place Canyon looming on Friday.

“I knew Canyon was on the tip of our minds,” said West Ranch center Ako Kaluna. “It’s not hard to look forward to it.”

Either way, Kaluna came out strong.

The junior scored eight first-quarter points and finished with a game-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shot attempts.

West Ranch guard Kevin Harris added 12 points.

The Grizzlies, though, found success after the first quarter by double-teaming Kaluna when he received the ball in the post.

“We knew what they do,” said Golden Valley head coach Myron Watkins. “They give it to Ako and we wanted to invite it and turn the table.”

The Grizzlies were able to cut the lead to 29-20 at halftime, but couldn’t overcome a poor shooting night from the field and from the free-throw line.

Golden Valley shot just 8-of-19 from the line and missed 11 layups in the game.

Joey Quintanilla scored 13 points and Matt Castro added 10 for the Grizzlies, who saw their Foothill League losing streak extend to 17 games.

West Ranch bounced back in the third quarter, as they extended the lead to 43-28 entering the fourth.

Midway through the final quarter, Harris hit a 3-pointer after Golden Valley had cut the lead to 48-39.

He followed that up with a layup on the next possession to put the game out of reach.

The Grizzlies will try to snap their league losing streak Friday when they host Hart.

For the Wildcats, the win might not have been as decisive as they would have liked, but head coach Shant Bicakci is fine with the result.

“We fell into it, getting lazy,” he said. “Not doing stuff we normally would do. Trying to force things and our passes were lazy. But that’s the flow of the game. I’m not too worried about it. It will be alright.”

But with its biggest game of the season coming up Friday, West Ranch knows the performance will have to improve against the Cowboys.

“It’s going to have to be way better,” Kaluna said. “Everyone’s mind will be on that game. Nobody will look ahead of that game. That game will make our season, whether we win or lose.”


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