Four sloppy possessions to begin the game forced West Ranch boys basketball head coach Ron Manalastas to make a change and pull all his starters on Friday night against Calabasas.
“In the first half we came out flat and I had to send a message and I pulled the starters out for a good chunk of time,” Manalastas said.
The reserves stepped up, but the Wildcats eventually lost 65-55 in the Warrior Classic, hosted by Heritage Christian and Bishop Alemany.
Bryan Malcolm was electric shouldering the scoring with the starters out and finished the game, held at Alemany, with 12 points (three 3’s). Halfway through the second quarter, the starters and the Wildcats got their act together and made it a game down the stretch, but weren’t able to pull off the win.
Nathan Ellsworth chipped in six points for West Ranch.
“When he came in, he was instant offense,” Manalastas said of Malcolm’s play. “He got us going and kept us in the game. Without him in the first quarter and into the second half, it could have been worse.”
After one quarter, the Wildcats (6-6 overall) found themselves in a hole, 18-6, but with Malcolm providing inspired play, West Ranch fed off his energy and started to make shots and by the half were within 10.
“As soon as he started clicking, everybody else started clicking,” Manalastas said of the Wildcats’ comeback. “We hit a lot of 3’s in the second half and that’s what kept us in the game. Guys were taking better care of the ball, playing unselfish and finding each other on the wings. That’s always going to be a recipe for success.”
Clyde Seo, who was a key player on last year’s team, returned from an injury and got in on scoring to finish with 14 points (three 3’s).
“It was good to see him knocking down shots and is looking like himself again,” Manalastas said of Seo. “I still think he needs to work his way back into basketball shape, but it’s good to see him knock down 3’s.”
The Wildcats eventually took the lead at one point in the fourth quarter, but found themselves down two points late in the game. After an and-one, West Ranch fell behind five points.
On the following possession, Calabasas (8-2) came down the court and went up seven. With under two minutes left in the game, West Ranch started to foul and play catch up, but it was too late.
The Wildcats play Oxnard in the Ventura Tournament on Thursday, Dec. 26.