Cats boys hoops beats Grizzlies after slow start

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West Ranch boys basketball walked into Golden Valley High School and dominated on the floor to take a 63-50 win over Golden Valley Tuesday night.

Jonah El-Farra and Clyde Seo led the charge for the Wildcats as the leading scorers. El-Farra tallied 21 points, while Seo collected 17 points. Luka Marich shined once again for the Grizzlies with 13 points of his own to lead the team.

“I’ve just been working on my game,” El-Farra said. “Practicing all four years and it’s all paying off now.”

The game started slow for both teams, but to the benefit of the Grizzlies (5-14 overall, 0-4 in Foothill League). Neither team broke double digits by the end of the first quarter. A 3-pointer from Golden Valley’s Devin Brown ended up being the difference, putting the Grizzlies up 9-6.

“We started of slow,” said West Ranch head coach Jeff Bryant. “We had six points in the first quarter which is unacceptable. If we want to win games, we’ve got to play better.”

The low scoring affair was due to a string of turnovers and blocks less than two minutes into the game. 

However, the Wildcats (11-10, 2-2) bounced back from a bad first quarter and had the only lead change of the game less than a minute into the second quarter thanks to a 3-pointer from Bryan Malcolm. The Wildcats scored an impressive 26 points in the second quarter to lead 32-17 at halftime.

“I got on those guys,” Bryant said. “I’m really happy about our second quarter, but we have to play better if we want to be within a game with Saugus, Valencia or even Canyon.”

The Wildcats’ offense slowed down in the third quarter, but not enough for the Grizzlies to catch up, especially with the West Ranch defense getting into a groove. The Cats extended their lead to a game-high 16 points by the end of the third quarter. 

“Golden Valley played hard, but it’s just the bottom line. We need to play harder,” Bryant said. “We just need to lock down and defend and just not allow these guys to score.”

More: Sean DeLong out as Canyon boys basketball coach

The game began to get interesting in the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies outscored the Wildcats 19-16 in a comeback effort orchestrated my Marich and Benicio Preciado.

The attempt fell short, but the Grizzlies were able to take a game that seemed out of hand and turn it into something that could have had a different outcome. A 3-point play with 1:24 remaining and 3-point shot from Preciado with 55 seconds remaining brought the game within 10 points before the Wildcats shut down the comeback.

“I’m just really happy with the fight our guys had,” said Golden Valley head coach Chris Printz. “Never quitting and continuing to play with class and poise.”

Both teams will return to the hardwood on Friday at 6:30 p.m. The Wildcats will travel to Canyon for their second game against a tough Cowboys defense. Golden Valley will take a visit to Hart to try and slow down its perimeter attack.

“We’ve got to do our best, play like dogs and hopefully get more wins,” El-Farra said.

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