West Ranch girls’ basketball advances to CIF semis 

West Ranch guard Alanna Topete (24) dribbles the ball against Valencia junior Jayla Wilcox in a game earlier this season. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
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The historic run isn’t over yet in Stevenson Ranch.  

Another strong defensive performance powered West Ranch girls’ basketball to victory as the Wildcats beat the Immaculate Heart Pandas, 51-36, in the CIF Division 4A quarterfinal matchup at L.A. City College.  

West Ranch led by just two at halftime but an 8-0 run in the third quarter and strong free throw shooting in the fourth were more than enough to clinch the win. 

The Wildcats (19-12) have proven themselves to be a strong third-quarter team, as they have now pulled ahead in three straight road playoff games in the period. 

West Ranch was led by senior Alanna Topete, who took over late in the game and knocked down seven of eight free throws in the fourth quarter.  

Topete led the team with 22 points while senior Aubrey Molina was also a key factor and added 13 points. 

“We’re a senior-led group,” said West Ranch coach Paul Gross in a phone interview. “We only have those two seniors and they definitely led us when we needed them most.”  

The Pandas (18-10) kept threatening to come back but the Wildcats had an answer for nearly every bucket in the second half. 

West Ranch now advances to the CIF semifinals and is eligible for the state tournament. Both are firsts for the Wildcat program.  

Gross brought CIF championship experience to this team last summer and now, in his first year, the team is one game away from the title game. 

“When we took over in the summer, there was a lot of work to be done defensively,” Gross said. “I think every time we go out, we get a little bit better. I think in this last month, we’ve really improved a ton defensively and that’s kind of the reason we’re playing as well as we are right now.” 

The Cats will finally play at home this postseason, after three road victories, and will host the Palos Verdes Sea Kings (21-7). 

“They’re definitely eager to play at home,” Gross said. “Getting into the Final Four is exciting and it’s the first time the school’s ever been. But we’ve got a big challenge ahead.” 

Palos Verdes is a physical team that plays relentless man-to-man defense, a huge factor in the team being placed as the top seed in Division 4A. 

West Ranch engages in postseason play at home for the first time in 12 seasons when the team takes on Palos Verdes on Saturday at 7 p.m. 

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