“You keep going to the well until the well runs dry.”
West Ranch boys basketball head coach Ron Manalastas said knowing his team had a size advantage on Friday night against Buena in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2A playoffs.
The game plan was to feed Robbie Myers and Alex Grant in the post, and the well never dried up as the Wildcats dominating presence in the paint led them to a 69-51 victory over the Bulldogs at home.
Myers got the scoring going for West Ranch, scoring three consecutive buckets in the paint to start the game on his way to a 21-point and eight-rebound performance. He also added two assists.
Grant joined his teammate in the post, using his length and power to finish at the rim, draw contact and earn trips to the free throw line, where he went 4-for-4. Grant finished with 14 points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocks.
With the two seniors taking care of business down low, lanes started to open up for the guards and Carter Williams, Nikko Clarke, Deaken Stangl and Dylan Stuman all took advantage by driving hard into the lane.
“When those two are clicking and they were clicking in practice and all the attention goes to Alex and Robbie, now Carter, Nikko , Deaken, Stuman, they can get in the lanes and do their thing,” Manalastas said. “Robbie’s pretty dominant in the post, he’s a force to be reckoned with.”
“The defense attracts all the attention to them, which leaves lanes open for us to attack and be aggressive,” Williams added.
Williams finished with eight points, five assists and five rebounds and Stangl added 10 points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Stuman logged seven points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals and Clarke recorded five points, two rebounds and a steal.
The Wildcats attempted only six 3-pointers on the night, with Clarke making the lone long ball with four minutes left in the game.
With the way West Ranch was dominating inside, the 3-ball wasn’t necessary.
“Our game plan today was just pound it inside. If the 3-ball was there we were going to take it,” Manalastas said. “They had no answer for Robbie and Alex down low. That’s been our game plan all year no matter who we face, feed our post men.”
The Wildcats held the lead for most of the game except for a short stint in the second quarter when Buena took an 18-15 lead.
West Ranch quickly answered back with and-ones from Myers, Stangl and two from Grant to regain the lead.
With the Wildcats holding a six-point lead at halftime, they came out aggressive to start the third quarter, leading to more buckets in the paint for Myers and Grant.
Buena tried to launch a comeback in the fourth quarter, but Stuman stole the ball twice in a row and made two layups to put the game out of reach.
West Ranch will face Peninsula on Tuesday, who defeated Bishop Amat in its first-round playoff game.
Manalastas said he’s going to let his players enjoy the win, before getting back to work on Monday to prepare for the second-round matchup.
“Tomorrow I need to watch film, but I need to let these guys enjoy it and Monday we’ll hit it,” he said. “This is different from the past seasons. Last year we got bounced in the first round so I want to let them enjoy it a little bit and they’ll be ready to go.”
“Our goal for the season was to make a push in the playoffs and this is the first step,” Carter said. “So we’re going to get film on them, study them and get ready for practice on Monday.”