For the last few weeks, great hype has surrounded tonight’s matchup between Westland (12-2, 6-2) and Delaware Hayes (9-4, 5-2), mainly due to the great point guards on each team. Heavily recruited Mike Wells came into tonight’s game leading the area in scoring. Kersey Long of Westland put an end to Wells’ scoring spree, limiting the guard to eight points in an electric 32 point win for the Cougars.
From the opening tip, Westland turned spectacular rebounding into transition offense. JJ Smith broke the school record for rebounds, with 22 in an impressive 18 point, seven assist performance. Smith went into halftime with a double double, scoring 16 points and 12 rebounds, but the second half turned into the Kersey Long Show.
With all the hype surrounding the matchup with Wells, many had doubted Long’s ability to stop Hayes’ high scoring guard. The doubters should remain silenced after tonight. When asked about the pre-game hype, Long stated, “All the things said were irrelevant. I’ve played against him since the sixth grade, I knew his game.” Wells had obvious trouble with the quickness of Long and his ability to stay right on top of him on and off the ball. Turning the ball over several times, Wells’ frustration came to a climax when the guard was called for a technical foul midway through the third quarter.
Long finished the game with 23 points, gashing the Pacers defense left and right, in addition to hitting three big shots from behind the arc. When asked about the defensive performance tonight, Long would say, “I just stayed quick on my feet and fell into my teammates’ help.” Wells also had his fair share of trouble with Westland guard KyJuan Grace, whose off-ball defense was mightily impressive.
After scoring 54 points in two quarters against Marysville last Friday, Westland continued that trend tonight, going into halftime leading 39-17. The third quarter was a shootout, as the Cougars outscored Hayes 24-20 in the period to head into the fourth leading 63-37. For the third time in four games, JJ Smith hit a buzzer beater, this time with a put back after an offensive rebound right as time expired.
Westland would not let their foot off the gas in the fourth, as the Cougars continued to up the tempo. No fourth quarter basket was bigger than the alley- oop Long set up for Williamson, which gave Westland a 75-41 lead with a little over four minutes to go. Williamson finished with 15 points. In their last six wins, Westland has outscored their opponents by 112 points, an impressive feat for a relatively underrated team.
Behind two of the OCC’s top players in JJ Smith and Kersey Long, Westland has the talent to make a magical run. Depth will certainly be an issue, but this team has heart.
Written by: Zach Fleer / @YS614