Speed, athleticism and lockdown defense has been Westland’s blueprint for success thus far in a promising 10-2 season. Tonight’s showing at Marysville (4-9, 2-5) was no different. From the jump, Westland’s intention was to outrun the Monarchs on their home floor, and that’s exactly what they did.
Scoring 27 points in each of the first two quarters of play, Westland was determined to make a statement tonight on both sides of the ball in an especially tough environment. JJ Smith once again led the way for the Cougars, scoring 20 points and ripping down over ten rebounds. Smith’s work on the glass helped Westland get out into the fast break and take advantage of the open floor. It was evident that Westland’s speed and athleticism was just too much for Marysville to handle, as the Monarchs had to call multiple time outs in the first half, in an attempt to slow down the pace of the Cougar attack.
In addition to attacking the basket, the Cougars shot exceptionally well from deep in the first half. Cory Beesler, Devan Williamson, and Kersey Long each had at least two triples in the first two quarters, only adding to how difficult Westland was to guard. No three point make was more impressive than the 36 footer that Smith nailed as time expired to close out the first half, giving Westland a 54-29 lead.
After a nail biting victory over Grove City on Tuesday, in which Westland blew a 21 point lead, the Cougars made sure to keep Marysville at a distance tonight.
Senior guard Kersey Long said of the win, “We didn’t want to take them lightly like the first time. We were much more aggressive on D tonight.”
In arguably their best game of this season, the Cougars played under control, and consistently made the extra pass for easy baskets down the stretch.
Four starters for Westland scored in double figures, as Beesler went for 17 points, Long added 12 of his own, and Wiliamson contributed with 11 points. Only scoring three points in their last matchup, Beesler stepped up and improved on a season in which he is leading the area in three-point shooting percentage.
Long would add, “Beesler was definitely the difference this time around. He had a big game.”
Williamson hit the boards harder tonight than he has all season, which was crucial for the Cougars’ rebounding advantage in the win.
Looking ahead, tonight’s victory is big for Westland’s momentum in their pursuit for their first OCC-Central title since 2005. With only two road games remaining on the schedule (2/1 @ Olentangy Liberty, 2/15 @ Central Crossing), Westland’s chances are looking better with each win. Crucial home games vs. Thomas Worthington, Upper Arlington and Dublin Coffman will determine just how far this team can go.
When asked about his team’s chances to win the division, Kersey Long summed it up with this:
“It’s always been our goal to defend Cougar Country. We feel if we can steal three to four conference road games and defend our home court, the OCC is ours.”
Written by: Zach Fleer / @YS614