No. 2 West Ranch boys’ basketball (12-0) remains undefeated after an impressive first-place finish in the Platinum Division at the highly competitive Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas.
Senior forward Andrew Meadow was awarded Tournament MVP while seniors Jaqari Miles and Jazz Gardner earned All-Tournament honors.
The Cats beat four top-ranked teams from all over the country on their way to the Tarkanian crown.
West Ranch opened up with a 60-38 win over Rainier Beach of Seattle.
The following day, they took care of Kell from Marietta, Georgia, 65-55. Kell is MaxPreps’ second-ranked team in the Peach State. Gardner played well against fellow 7-footer Auburn commit Peyton Washington, registering 17 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.
The Wildcats took down No. 28 Mater Dei in the semifinals, 60-55.
“We were getting production from someone new each game,” said Cats’ head coach Jeff Bryant. “Darrell Morris controlled the game defensively each round. Jaqari Miles and James Evans made big shots all tournament long. It was truly about winning all week and not individual stats.”
Morris and Evans played excellent defense while senior Isaiah Fields played consistently all week.
The team entered the championship game yet to trail in the tournament. West Ranch’s final opponent would be the hosting No. 1 Bishop Gorman Gaels.
The Cats would trail by as much as 10 in the first half but dialed up some big defensive plays in the second half to come out with a 67-62 win in the championship game.
“We went into halftime and our message was let’s get a ‘kill’ to start the half,” said Bryant. “A ‘kill’ for us is three stops in a row and we almost had two.”
Meadow led the way again with 18 points over the Gaels, who had only lost to No. 1 Centennial of Corona this season.
“Winning that tournament is a great honor,” said Meadow. “I think there’s only been 11 champions of that tournament and they’re all the high-level programs and competitive schools. To be a Santa Clarita school and win it is an honor. And to win MVP and see the other names who have won MVP is just a great feeling.”
“I didn’t go into it seeking any individual awards. I just wanted to win. I played some pretty good basketball and the team played great. The MVP award is a product of my hard work.”
It was the last long road trip for Meadow and his fellow seniors but the team will have plenty of tournaments left this season with playoffs and this week’s trip to the Damien Classic.
The Cats will compete in the Platinum Division and have an opening round matchup with Dublin. The team has a chance to see some familiar faces throughout the Classic with potential matchups with Canyon, Notre Dame and Liberty, which the team faced at the SCV Showcase.
West Ranch has all the confidence and has backed it up so far this season. The group expected to take home the crown in Vegas and will look to do the same in La Verne on Tuesday.
“The stakes have been risen going into the Damien tournament,” said Meadow. “We are definitely the favorites, us or Harvard-Westlake. That battle on Friday will be a good one but we have to do what we do: play physical, share the ball and we should come out on top.”