It had been almost six years to the day that seniors on the Rancho Cotate High boys’ basketball team experienced victory on Seniors’ Night, the last home game of the season and their high school careers.
But the Cougars thrilled a packed home gymnasium on Thursday, Feb. 9, by holding off Casa Grande of Petaluma 57-51 to earn their second North Bay League victory of the season.
In doing so, the Cougars (6-20 overall and 2-12 in the NBL) also ended a couple of symbols of futility in the NBL.
First, the Cougars wiped out a string of losing home games that dated back to Feb. 2, 2012 when they beat Ukiah 71-48. Second, Rancho Cotate for the first time since 2012 does not occupy the cellar in the final NBL standings. That distinction this year belongs to Casa Grande.
Ironically, it was the underclassmen who made sure their senior teammates were victorious in their final home game.
Cougars sophomore Connor Barbato led all scorers in the game with 15 points, followed by fellow sophomore James Parker with 12, junior Levi Hinkle with 10 and junior Jake Simmons with 10.
Rancho Cotate never held a comfortable lead, but it displayed grit throughout the contest and simply made the necessary plays to win.
Maria Carrillo 64, Rancho Cotate 39
The Cougars’ final game of the season saw them fall behind early and never and never mounted any sort of rally against the Pumas.
Maria Carrillo held the Cougars to only five points in the first quarter and eventually built the lead to 34-15 at halftime.
Rancho Cotate did not have any players reach double figures in scoring. But if there was a bright spot it was that 10 of the 12 players on the Cougars’ roster scored points, led by juniors Logan Reese and Jaelen Ward with six and five, respectively.
Josh Wong, Quincy Grayer, Lakota Sims, Barbato, Hinkle and Parker all scored four points for Rancho Cotate.