BURBANK — Kicking off its War on the Floor slate with a game against the Gold Coast League’s Paraclete, West Ranch boys basketball tried to find its footing while trying to run a new offense at Burbank High School on Tuesday.
Both teams looked a bit rusty in the opening minutes of the game, but it was Paraclete who came away with the 72-58 win.
West Ranch took an early 7-0 lead powered by Clyde Seo’s hard drives into the lane and Dylan Stuman’s silky shot, forcing a Spirits timeout.
Running a zone defense, Paraclete took advantage of a young and relatively inexperienced Wildcats team that was still in the early stages of trying to pick up a new offense while playing at the speed of varsity.
“Offensively, I didn’t see anything that we have been working on since Spring,” said West Ranch head coach Ron Manalastas. “Is that Paraclete, ehh probably. They ran a zone, and I don’t prepare for zone until the season. Expecting guys to remember what we did a few months ago in terms of the zone attack is rough, but we still hung in there.
“We tried to make it up and down a little bit, but any coach will tell you if you have three guys that are running and knowing what they are doing and one guy doesn’t, it’s always the one guy that doesn’t know it all that exposes us all. We just have to work on it and make sure that all five guys know what they are doing. Right now it’s early, it’s summer, right now four guys know what they are doing.”
Losing seven players to graduation, four of which were starters on last year’s Foothill League runner-up team, the Wildcats had a hard time defending the post.
Seo did his best to put a body on someone, but with Jonah El Farra out, RJ Olmsted stepped in and picked up the slack grabbing rebounds and clogging the lane to keep the Spirits off the glass as best he could.
“He’s playing out of position,” Manalastas said about Olmstead. “Jonah is not here and he had to play the five spot and literally learned it this morning. The fact that he can come in there and battle like he did, out of position, is good and it speaks volumes.
At the half, West Ranch led 30-29.
Having a multitude of guards on the roster, the Wildcats are trying to figure out which newcomers have the right chemistry and fit to play together.
“I have a couple of the juniors that come off the bench that are solid and give us some solid minutes at the point guard spot,” Manalastas said. “Sage is really our point guard, but we really run our offense with two point guards. Dylan is one of them and Sage is the other just so we have two ball handlers and two sides to attack, but I’m confident with the young guys that we have that come off the bench.”
One of the newcomers, Bryan Malcolm, a junior varsity standout a year ago, provided instant offense with his smooth jump shot and ability to get into the lane and finish.
“I like what he is doing, he doesn’t look fazed and looks like he’s been here before,” Manalastas said. “I’m good with that, I like that.”
Down the stretch, Paraclete overpowered the Wildcats to hand West Ranch the opening round loss in pool play.
Stuman finished lead the Wildcats with 18 points, Seo had 12 while Malcolm and freshman Andrew Meadow had 11 points each.
West Ranch plays its final two games of pool play on Friday against Agoura at 3:25 p.m. and Crespi Gold at 7:45 p.m. Both games will be at John Burroughs High School at Gym No. 2.
“I think we were a little rusty because we were learning a new offense with a bunch of new guys,” Seo said. “It’s pretty new, all this stuff. I think we could have played harder and we will do better.”