By Ryan Menzie
For The Signal
While the pandemic-shortened season might not have been perfect, West Ranch boys basketball’s 10-0 record was flawless, with a run that also earned a couple of all-league honors for the team’s biggest contributors.
Senior Cory Cofield and sophomore Andrew Meadow took home first-team All-Foothill League, a recognition awarded by the league’s coaches.
West Ranch’s season ultimately came to an end with a 65-59 loss at home to Agoura, after defeating Camarillo at home and Beckman on the road, respectively, in the first two rounds of the Southern Section Division 2A playoffs.
“We finished our first line of business, (but) fell short in the playoffs with very high expectations,” said Wildcats head coach Jeff Bryant. “We want the CIF championship. I want us to remember how it felt at the end of the buzzer to lose. Remember the feeling and let it motivate us into next season because we’re going to be back.”
Cofield was the only player for the young Wildcats team with any playoff experience, and said the CIF title had been the team’s goal all season. He ultimately hopes to play at the next level in college, after one more year of AAU competition.
“Definitely felt like we could’ve won the championship,” said Cofield. “I wish we played a little harder in the last game, but you live and you learn. Don’t take anything for granted and play like every game is your last game because you will never know when it will be over.”
Meadow looks forward to playing next season with the team now having more experience, he said. With the confidence being fueled, the bar for achievement now includes an undefeated league season and a deep playoff run.
“I want to work hard this offseason, make sure everyone is in the gym and make sure everyone is prepared,” said Meadow. “No roster spot is guaranteed, but next season they better be ready for me.”
The Saugus Centurions and Valencia Vikings round out the top-three finishers in league play.
The Centurions finished with a league record of 7-3. Led by head coach Alfredo Manzano, the Centurions had Player of the Year junior Nathan Perez and first-team all-league selection Davis White. Perez and White look to make a strong statement to finish on top of the Foothill league next season.
The Vikings finished with a 5-4 record and were led by head coach Bill Bedgood. The Vikings’ Noah Veluzat finished with first-team all-league honors, and senior Gabe Latkovich earned second-team honors.
The Hart Indians finished fourth in the Foothill league with a 4-6 record. With 6-foot, 6-inch junior Jaden Penberthy missing the entire season due to ankle injuries on both feet, Indians coach Tom Kelly put sophomores Hank Kaufman and Jacob Okonowski into his starting lineup. Kelly is appreciative of the experience they were able to get.
“The season was what it was. Only playing 10 games hurt us, but I’m glad the seniors got to wear their jerseys one last time,” said Kelly. “We started two sophomores, they got a ton of experience and it was really good for them. The young guys and returners got some good Foothill League experience and it will help us going into next season.”
Of the standouts for Kelly and the Indians, senior Dillon Barrientos took home first-team all-league honors. Kelly thought it was a nice nod to the team’s accomplishments due to the fact that you can’t vote for your own players to be on the all-league team.
Barrientos plans to play at the college level but wants to be more aggressive going to the basket, become stronger and become a better shooter.
“The season felt very good, but it was different with COVID, especially not having crowds in the stands. The players like it when there are big crowds,” said Barrientos. “It felt good being on the first team. I worked really hard this season and it really helped me mentally see my hard work pay off. I want my team to work together, play hard and play tough defense next season.”
Rounding out the list of all-league first-team players is Canyon Cowboys senior Miles Davis. Davis and the Cowboys finished fifth in the league and look to next year to build around second-team junior Mathew Heyne.