Weston Ranch High School boys basketball coach Chris Teevan, a 2006 graduate of Beyer High School, summed up his theory on basketball rather neatly.
“Toughness always wins,” said Teevan, who also played hoops at Modesto JC and Cal State Stanislaus. “Toughness and defense have to travel with you on the road.”
The Cougars displayed both during a 12-0 run to close the game and handed host Central Valley a 65-53 defeat in their Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff opener Wednesday night.
Weston Ranch (18-10) advances to play top-seeded Christian Brothers (Sacramento), a 70-44 winner over No. 16 Patterson on Wednesday. Central Valley ends the season at 22-4.
After senior center Parker Griffin tied the score at 53, getting a nice wrap-around pass inside the paint from senior point guard Jaron Dickson, the Hawks seemed to have momentum on their side with 4:35 remaining. And after immediately making a stop on the defensive end, Central Valley was poised to recapture the lead since forging ahead 47-46 late in the fourth quarter.
But the Hawks would come up empty on their final nine trips up the court. More than that, it was the way that the smallish Cougars stymied Central Valley by dominating the board and not allowing the Hawks a single second-shot opportunity in the final four minutes.
“We didn’t control the offensive glass, it was that simple,” Central Valley coach Darryl Dickson said. “We had a chance late in the game and that’s all we could ask for.
“But I give them all the credit in the world. They’re a solid team.”
The Hawks mixed up their zone and man defensive schemes, and had the Cougars off balance at times. But because Central Valley didn’t rebound well, Weston Ranch was able to get into its transition game off missed shots.
“We didn’t execute our game plan and play our best game tonight,” said Jaron Dickson, the coach’s son, who finished with a game-high 22 points. “We missed layups, we didn’t block out … the type of stuff that can hurt you.”
After essentially trading buckets for the first quarter, Weston Ranch raced out to a 28-17 lead with 3:34 to play in the first half. But Central Valley embarked on a 12-2 run to get within a point with 47 seconds left. Jaelen Ragsdale (20 points) scored with 38 seconds remaining and the Cougars went into the break with a 32-29 lead.
“Toughness is hard to quantify on a basketball court,” Teevan said. “But to end the game on a 12-0 run … our kids didn’t give up.”