This game was never really close. However, heading into halftime, Westland found a once 23 point lead down to just 11. Scoring 59 points in the second half, the Cougars put the nail in the coffin in a statement victory over district rival Central Crossing, 94-69.
Westland’s intensity in the first quarter was crucial as they jumped out to an early 18-6 lead. The Cougars would up the tempo with their transition offense, and suffocating perimeter defense. Central Crossing was outmatched from the tip and it showed after one quarter when the Comets trailed 23-10.
In a game in which many believed Central Crossing had no chance, the Comets showed incredible heart. After falling behind early, the visitors would battle back in the second quarter, outscoring Westland, 14-12. Led by sophomore big man Matt Dwane’s 17 points, the Comets seemed to get Westland out of rhythm going into halftime, satisfied to be only down 11. The Cougars would regain their focus going into the third quarter and never looked back.
JJ Smith continued an already impressive week of basketball, leading the Cougars in scoring with 23 points and 15 rebounds. Cory Beesler’s second half production is what guided Westland in an exciting third quarter in which Central Crossing was outscored, 30-17. Beesler was deadly from deep, scoring 11 points in the third period, as Westland headed into the fourth quarter up 65-41.
Similar to Tuesday’s win over Upper Arlington, the Cougars opened up the fourth quarter with a barrage of baskets. JJ Smith and Kersey Long got things going early on and were able to check out of the game with a little under four minutes to go, leading 86-55. Westland’s bench, which has been anything but productive as of late, was mightily impressive tonight. Senior Tourey Freeman led them in scoring with 10 points, and Myles Fowler added six of his own. The bench would total 26 points on the night.
Usual stud Kersey Long had a productive night in which he was honored before the game for being named JJ Huddle’s “Ohio Player of the Week” earlier in the season. Long had his way with Central Crossing’s defense en route to 14 points and nine assists. Central Crossing had no match for Long’s quickness and ability to get into the lane.
For Devan Williamson and KyJuan Grace, tonight’s game was more than just a rivalry. Both players are former Comets, and the Central Crossing student section showed their disgust to their former classmates. Williamson had constant problems with the officials tonight, most notably at the end of the third quarter when he was called for a technical foul. The senior forward would finish with just five points after struggling from the field. Grace had another solid game for Westland, finishing with 12 points, and once again playing spectacular on defense.
With the win, Westland improves to 8-2, while Central Crossing falls to 2-9. Tonight’s victory is crucial for the Cougars in their pursuit for an OCC-Central title, as Thomas Worthington fell at home to Olentangy Liberty, 56-50. Upper Arlington also suffered a loss at Dublin Coffman, 57-43. Coming into tonight, Westland was tied with both Thomas and Arlington. Westland now stands alone at third in the division, just one game behind Liberty and Coffman.
Written by: Zach Fleer / @YS614