Support our high school sports coverage by becoming a digital subscriber. Subscribe now.
VALENCIA — It was a night that marked history for the West Ranch boys basketball program.
Never before have the Wildcats been to the CIF Southern Section Open Division. A roster filled with talent had finally gotten over the hump and into the prestigious division, known to host Southern California’s best teams in the postseason.
Everything was ready. A taco truck just outside the gym, a DJ to welcome a sold-out crowd and a student section oozing with excitement for top-notch competition. West Ranch was ready, too.
The Wildcats overcame first-quarter jitters and used a great third quarter to edge St. John Bosco 55-53 in the opening round of the Open Division playoffs at home Friday night.
Andrew Meadow delivered an old-fashioned 3-point play with under 10 seconds left that secured the win. Xinyi Li responded with a 3-pointer but time expired.
“We came into this expecting games like this,” said Meadow, who has signed to play at Boise State. “Our mindset is to just go 1-0, 1-0, 1-0 these three games. It’s nice to get the first one.”
West Ranch will host St. Bernard and St. John Bosco will play at Harvard-Westlake in the second round of games Tuesday night.
Meadow had 17 points, Jazz Gardner tallied nine points and 11 rebounds and Jaqari Miles added eight for West Ranch. St. John Bosco’s Xinyi Li had a game-high 23 points and Elzie Harrington, one of SoCal’s top sophomores was held to six points.
“I was proud of our guys,” St. John Bosco coach Matt Dunn said. “We did not play our best game and kept fighting. This was a high-level game and didn’t feel much different than other games we’ve played in this season. We just didn’t play well enough to play a really good team tonight.”
St. John Bosco, a program that’s been in the Open Division five of the past six years, showed its experience early, running out to a 10-4 run to start the game. West Ranch looked like a deer in head lights with bad, long shots clanking off the backboard and passes flying out of bounds.
Really nice high-low action. Jazz Gardner to Andrew Meadow. West Ranch has officially settled in.
St. John Bosco 24, West Ranch 24. Halftime. pic.twitter.com/NRndpvMXXS
— Tarek Fattal (@Tarek_Fattal) February 11, 2023
But after falling behind 23-14 in the second quarter, West Ranch settled in by finishing the opening half on a 10-1 run to take a 24-24 stalemate into halftime.
“I think once we realized the moment was here and we can’t mess around, we buckled down,” Meadow said.
West Ranch coach Jeff Bryant has been realistic – and critical – of his team the last two years, saying his team “turns off when the bright lights turn on”. Friday night, the Wildcats proved they belong.
MORE OPEN DIVISION SCORES
Harvard-Westlake 69, St. Bernard 57: Brady Dunlap led the Wolverines with 24 points.
Corona Centennial 68, Sierra Canyon 63: Ashton Hardaway led the Trailblazers with 21 points and Bronny James had 13.
Notre Dame 71, Bishop Montgomery 63: Dusty Stromer had 20 points, Caleb Foster scored 18 and Mercy Miller added 17 for Notre Dame.
Etiwanda 53, Oak Park 45: Isaiah Sherrard had 19 points and 10 rebounds as Oak Park falls to the No. 1 seed.
Heritage Christian 55, Roosevelt 39: Tae Simmons led the Warriors with 19 points and 15 rebounds.
Culver City 74, Simi Valley 69 (OT): Ryder Mjoen’s 34 points wasn’t enough for the Pioneers. Kyle Hoffer had six charges in the game, breaking a single-game school record.
Windward 64, Chaminade 57
Sonora 74, Agoura 59: Nasir Meyer had 26 points in the Chargers’ loss.
AGBU 51, Diamond Bar 40
Valencia 63, Warren 48: Bryce Bedgood led the Vikings with 28 points and 20 rebounds.
Birmingham 77, San Pedro 64: Caleb Newton led the Patriots with 21 points.
Taft 66, King/Drew 43: Bishop Brooks led the Toreadors with 22 points and Keyon Kensie added 17.