Meeting for the second time this season, West Ranch boys basketball traveled to Saugus in a Foothill League battle on Tuesday.
From the opening tip, the message was clear for West Ranch: Get the ball inside and pound the boards. Doing just that, the Wildcats were able to avenge a three-point loss earlier in the season, winning 62-51.
“That’s all we worked on the last couple of days, playing to our strengths,” said West Ranch head coach Ron Manalastas. “I kept emphasizing to the boys we have to pound the boards and get it inside, and they responded. Guys executed all the things that we put in the last couple days, but hats off to these guys. I’m so proud of them.”
The Wildcats’ Robbie Myers, Carter Williams and Alex Grant got the scoring going for West Ranch to take a 6-0 lead in the opening minutes.
Myers finished with a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He assisted and stole the ball three times each. Williams finished with nine points and Grant chipped in six points with both pulling down six boards each.
“I knew that we had to pick it up because we are both 4-2 and I thought that we had to come out and crash the boards,” Myers said. “We are a team that kind of relies on the three and when we don’t do well, us big guys have to step it up and crash the boards more often and harder every time.”
Saugus responded behind Adrian McIntyre’s eight straight points off a steal and two 3-pointers to tie that game at 8-8. Next time down the court Nathan Perez hit another 3 to give the Centurions their first lead of the game at 11-8.
Going back the basics in the second quarter, West Ranch (15-8 overall, 5-2 in Foothill League) was able to get the ball inside to Myers and Grant to keep the Wildcats within striking range.
Just as quickly as Saugus (14-8, 4-3) gained the lead, Dylan Stuman or “Stu-dog Millionaire,” as the team calls him, came off the bench for West Ranch and accounted for five straight points with an assist to Myers and a 3-pointer to cut the Saugus lead to 18-17 with 5:07 left in the half.
Scoring 22 of their 30 points inside the paint in the first half, West Ranch battled back to tie the game and later regain the lead with two minutes to go in the second quarter behind key buckets down the stretch by Cooper Ney and Clyde Seo to head into halftime with a 30-25 lead.
At the turn, after a layup, Williams extended the lead for West Ranch, hitting a 3-pointer at the top of the key, forcing Saugus head coach Alfredo Manzano to call a timeout while down 35-25.
Saugus’ McIntyre took matters into his own hands, scoring nine of his game-high 27 points in the quarter to cut the deficit to four points with just under five minutes left.
But just as it looked like Saugus was getting going, Stuman quieted the Saugus crowd by hitting a high-arching 3-pointer with 37 seconds left to preserve a five-point lead with one quarter left to play.
Carrying over the momentum to finish the third quarter, Stuman took over the game, pouring in 12 of West Ranch’s 14 points in the frame to fend off the Saugus charge.
Stuman finished with a team-high 24 points (hitting five 3’s), four rebounds and two steals.
“I did this for my team, we just wanted to get a win.” Stuman said. “We know we are a good team and we just wanted to prove it. Tonight we did a great job and came out strong and finished strong. I’m just glad that I got to pour in (points in) what I think was our best game of the season by far.”
Deaken Stangl scored the other two points on a breakaway two-handed dunk to secure the win for West Ranch.
“I’m very proud of Dylan,” Manalastas said. “He has put together a string of league games where he is steadily progressing and getting better and better with each game. Today he just played special, out of his mind and with a lot of heart. For a junior to carry a senior-heavy team he did a great job. I’m super proud of that kid.”
West Ranch will see if they can avenge another Foothill League loss to Valencia as the two teams will square up at West Ranch on Friday. Saugus will look to bounce back, hosting Golden Valley at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.