Wildcat girls hoops hopes to build off loss to Calabasas

West Ranch's Lucia Kajganic races down the court in a matchup with Calabasas at West Ranch Friday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal
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Sometimes wins and losses aren’t measured by how many points or baskets a team scores, but by the trials and tribulations that a team endures and how they build off of them.

In Friday’s home pre-league contest, the West Ranch girls basketball team endured a rough outing, but never gave in to a strong Calabasas team. Making a resurgence in the second half, the Wildcats clawed back, but ultimately, fell to the Coyotes 59-31.

“There’s a lot of wins that came out of this game,” said West Ranch head coach Shawn Zeringue. “They are learning how to play as a team, they are learning how to fight all 32 minutes and they are learning how to play without last year’s starters.”

West Ranch (0-7 overall) entered the home game without its full complement of players due to girls being out of town for the holidays along with a myriad of injuries and fell behind 13-0 with all the perimeter shots that Calabasas was hitting.

Facing a double-digit deficit, freshmen Lucia Kajganic and Alissa Saridin took it upon themselves attacking the basket at will whenever the lane opened up.

West Ranch’s Alissa Saridin battles a defender in a matchup with Calabasas at West Ranch Friday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

“They encourage my juniors to drive and be aggressive,” Zeringue said. “They see the freshmen going all out, so that tells them that they need to do the same. My freshmen are setting the bar high for those who are coming off the bench.”

Kajganic led the Wildcats scoring a team-high 15 points, nine rebounds and three steals and Saridin followed with 14 points, six rebounds and two steals.

Just before the end of the half, on an out-of-bounds play, Saridin gathered a pass from Kammi Sasaki and nailed a floater from the corner as the buzzer sounded to head into the half, down 36-10.

Saridin picked up where she left off in the second half and scored six points by getting inside the paint to draw fouls or converting the baskets.

Ariel Miron and Michaela Brewer manned the paint on both ends of the floor it gave the Wildcats multiple second-chance opportunities against a stingy Calabasas (10-4) defense.

“Even though we were losing, we knew that we still had a chance,” Kajganic said. “Our coach told us, after all, we are a third and fourth quarter type of team and we battled until the end. We were down a lot, but just having the mentality of getting as close as possible to their score.”

Miron led the team with 11 rebounds and Brewer finished the game with four rebounds of her own.

West Ranch’s tempo picked up in the final frame with the Wildcats pushing the ball up with urgency, none more evident than back-to-back 3-point trips down the court as Saridin and Kajganic knocked down the perimeter shots.

Ultimately, the deficit was too deep for the Wildcats to climb back from, but the result and the way that team played gives Zenrigue hope for the future as two of her starters –– Cassie Fawzi and Sasha Preston –– will join the team.

West Ranch host Nordhoff at 3 p.m. at West Ranch High School on Friday.

“They did not quit, they are not quitters,” Zeringue said. “They are not going to be known as quitters in this league, they will play all 32 minutes. I don’t care if we are down 30, 40 or we are down five they will play until the buzzer sounds. That’s how they play, that’s how they have been taught to play and that’s how they perform for us. I’m excited to see next Friday because I’ll have two of my starters back.”

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