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Year in Review: West Ranch - Show of class

Posted: June 30, 2013 8:25 p.m.
Updated: June 30, 2013 8:25 p.m.

West Ranch senior Ako Kaluna was named All-CIF this season after helping the Wildcats win an outright Foothill League title.

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The sort of energy that was felt inside the West Ranch High gymnasium during January and February was unlike anything seen in the Santa Clarita Valley in recent years.

With an electrifying basketball team on the court that featured two of the most talented players this valley has ever seen, West Ranch High was the place to be in the Santa Clarita Valley.

It was a party every Tuesday and Friday inside a gym packed with an overflow crowd and a raucous student section.

The party continued in the spring when West Ranch celebrated its most successful season in school history, hanging four new championship banners in its increasingly decorated gymnasium.

Boys golf continued what has become a Foothill League dynasty, softball and baseball further asserted themselves as two of the top programs in their respective sports and boys volleyball broke through for its first league championship. The school even produced an All-American in freshman diver Carly Sherwood-Souza.

West Ranch also helped to usher boys lacrosse into the SCV, marking the first time that a new CIF sport has been introduced in the William S. Hart Union High School District since boys volleyball in 1988. After a rough start, the Wildcats put things together and finished with a respectable 6-9 record.

The winning ways started for the Wildcats in the fall as the girls golf team repeated as Foothill League champions.

Senior Sarah Hong and freshman Josie Lionetti led a talented squad that took the league title by over 150 strokes and advanced to the first round of the CIF playoffs.

Football came into the season with high expectations for itself, but struggled to gain traction as the season progressed. The Wildcats finished the season with a 2-8 record.

After the season, head coach Sean O’Brien resigned from the position and junior varsity head coach Jan Miller was promoted to the spot.

The girls volleyball team had a strong Foothill League season, winning five straight league games at one point, and qualified for playoffs after a second place tie with Hart High.

As the winter season got into full swing, so did the high-powered boys basketball team.

Led by the one-two punch of seniors Kevin Harris and Ako Kaluna, the Wildcats excited their home crowd all season with their fast-paced brand of ball.

Harris averaged 20.2 points per game and was hands-down the top shooter in the league. The senior also threw down his fair share of dunks as he played his way to multiple player of the year honors.

Harris’ teammate Kaluna may have been the most dominant force that Foothill League basketball has seen in a very long time. The 6-foot-7-inch, 270-pound big man was not only physically imposing, but he could do many things with a basketball that most people his size can’t. Defenses had to guard Kaluna as an outside threat, even when he was breaking backboards, like he did in a game against Alemany on Dec. 6.

Although the squad entered Foothill play as a slight favorite, a strong Hart High program wasn’t going to make things easy for West Ranch. The teams sat in a tie for first going into the last game of the regular season when West Ranch knocked off Valencia 73-51 and Hart fell in a shocking defeat to Canyon, 62-61, giving the Wildcats their first outright title in school history.

The Wildcats eventually made a run through the Division IA playoffs, but came up just short in an agonizingly close 61-59 quarterfinal lose to Dana Hills.

Girls basketball boasted a big-time duo of its own with junior Whitney Branham and senior Hannah Green. Branham led the Wildcats in scoring and Green was one of the most dominant defensive players in the league, as they helped lead the squad to a playoff appearance.

Boys soccer rounded up a successful winter season, as the team finished second in the Foothill and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

Once again, the spring turned into the most productive season for West Ranch.

Baseball, led by the strong hitting Jagger Rusconi and J.D. Krauskopf, tied for first with Canyon High, its second finish on top of the Foothill standings in a row.

Behind the bat of Foothill Player of the Year senior Kylie Sorenson, the Wildcats went undefeated in league play and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Division IA playoffs, their best finish in school history.

Six was the magic number for a boys golf program that continued to show why it is the gold standard of the Santa Clarita Valley. The team finished the season with a perfect 6-0 record and claimed its sixth straight Foothill League title. Individually, Joey Downey was the league’s Most Valuable Player.

Of the four spring league titles that the Wildcats produced, only one came from a program that has never won a title in the past.

Boys volleyball not only claimed its first Foothill League crown, the team was undefeated in league play.

Even more amazing was the fact that it only dropped one game over this stretch.

Volleyball put the finishing touches on a spring in which the Wildcats were the class of the Foothill League.

 

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