Westland High School wrestling coach Bret Busby is hoping that an early-season challenge will pay dividends later in the season, particularly in the Division I sectional tournament.

Westland High School wrestling coach Bret Busby is hoping that an early-season challenge will pay dividends later in the season, particularly in the Division I sectional tournament.

The Cougars went 0-5 and finished last in the 16-team, dual-format the Wolfpack Classic at Worthington Kilbourne on Dec. 14 behind champion Mason (5-0).

"It was a wonderful tournament, dual-style, in central Ohio," Busby said. "Mason up from Cincinnati, Euclid down from Cleveland. We knew it was going to be a rough road, but we go in and embrace those challenges because everything matters at the end of the year for sectionals."

Westland opened the event with a 72-6 loss to eventual runner-up Centerville and went on to lose to Buckeye Valley 58-15, Mount Gilead 54-18, Euclid 60-22 and Brookhaven 35-30.

The Cougars wrestled without seven starters, including senior captain Devyn VanHandel (145 pounds), who was taking the ACT.

"We got thumped, but it was basically a (junior varsity) team," Busby said. "The last three rounds were (like) night and day, and I was very happy. The scores don't show that, but I was very happy. Our kids embraced it and fought hard after some thumpings. I'm glad they got the experience."

Blake Rece led Westland, finishing 4-0 at 106. He was 6-0 overall before an OCC-Central Division dual against Thomas Worthington on Dec. 19.

"I look forward to a day like this and the competition level," Rece said of the Wolfpack Classic.

Tommy Stone went 3-2 at 170 and Jacob Lewis went 2-2 at 195 with two pins.

Westland will compete in the West Jefferson Invitational on Dec. 27 and 28.

In that 19-team event last season, the Cougars finished 14th (143 points) behind champion Hillsboro (449).

Boys basketball teamrallies for first win

The boys basketball team posted its first win under first-year coach Seth Martin, and did so in dramatic fashion.

Toury Freeman, a 6-foot-3 senior forward, hit a 15-foot jump shot in the final second to lift the Cougars to a 54-52 win over Hilliard Davidson in an OCC-Central game Dec. 17 at home.

"It's a relief for me, but it's a relief for the boys because they've worked their tails off all summer long and in the fall and winter, and to see these kids come together and just get more and more experience each and every week, I'm so happy they finally pulled out a close one," Martin said.

Freeman finished with a game-high 29 points and Javon Watson scored 10.

Westland, which was 1-4 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Central before playing Olentangy Liberty on Dec. 20, trailed by nine points in the second half and by five points in the final minute before rallying. Nico Thaboun scored his only points on a 3-pointer in the final minute that helped fuel the rally.

"We faced adversity in the second half," Martin said. "We got down nine and we hung together and fought back and made some key shots down the stretch. We got some key turnovers and won the game. Toury Freeman hit a heck of a shot. He had a heck of a game."

Westland opened league play with a 50-35 loss to Thomas Worthington on Dec. 13 at home.

The Cougars trailed 30-27 after the third quarter but were outscored 20-8 in the fourth.

Freeman had a team-high 16 points.

Westland also was outplayed in the fourth quarter of a 58-49 home loss to Columbus South on Dec. 14.

The Cougars led 39-38 after three quarters but were outscored 20-10 in the fourth.

Watson had 15 points and Freeman and Thaboun each scored 10.

Girls basketball teamoff to strong start

The girls basketball team took an undefeated record into its OCC-Central game against Liberty on Dec. 20.

Westland improved to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the league with a 61-53 win over host Davidson on Dec. 17.

The Cougars led 33-18 at halftime and 44-27 after three quarters before holding off a late rally by the Wildcats. Davidson cut its deficit to six points in the final minute but would get no closer.

Tanesha Dixon had 19 points to lead Westland, which had six turnovers in the fourth quarter. Christina Simpson had 17 points and Rachelle Marcum scored nine for the Cougars, who went 23-for-41 from the foul line.

"I'm not happy," coach Hugo Quint said. "We have to play smart and we did not play smart down the stretch."

The Cougars defeated host Thomas 57-42 in a league game Dec. 13 behind 22 points from Simpson and 18 from Dixon.

"This team has potential," Quint said. "We have to accept coaching."