The Westland High School girls basketball team headed into its game Jan. 10 against Central Crossing looking to get back on the winning track.
After winning their first six games, the Cougars lost their next four and were 6-4 overall and 5-2 in the OCC-Central Division before facing the Comets. They were one game behind Dublin Coffman and Upper Arlington in the league standings entering play Jan. 10.
During its skid, Westland lost league games on the road against Coffman (52-48 on Jan. 3) and UA (47-45 on Jan. 7). According to coach Hugo Quint, the Cougars let two wins slip away at the foul line, as they made only six of 14 free throws against the Shamrocks and only seven of 17 against the Golden Bears.
"We beat ourselves," Quint said after the loss to UA. "That's the second game we've done that. You can't miss that many free throws.
"We can shoot free throws (in practice) until we're blue in the face, (but) we have to (learn to) make them under pressure."
Westland trailed UA by as many as 12 points in the first half but rallied in the second half and held a 43-39 lead with 1 minute, 24 seconds left. The Bears tied the game at 45 on a three-point play by Kyle Croxton with 21 seconds remaining and Andi Norman provided the winning basket by driving through the lane for a layup with one second left.
Brooke Pannell had 12 points to lead the Cougars, who were 6-for-15 from the foul line in the fourth quarter. Quint said the freshman has emerged as one of the team's top players.
"She's into the mix and we're going to use her," Quint said. "We're going to use the talent that she has. Our kids have to look for her more often."
Tanesha Dixon added 10 points against UA.
"It was very disappointing," Dixon said of the loss to UA. "We had a lot of defensive errors that we shouldn't had. Offensively, with our free throws, we didn't finish and capitalize."
Against Coffman, Westland led 26-23 at halftime but was outscored 29-22 in the second half.
Christina Simpson scored a game-high 20 points to lead the Cougars and Dixon added 11 points.
"It was a very hard fought game," Shamrocks coach Bryan Patton said. "(The Cougars) are a physical team and really have gotten better. They have two very good guards (in Dixon and Simpson) and their girls play hard. I was proud of how our girls played down the stretch in the fourth quarter."
Boys basketball team looking to bounce back
The boys basketball team entered its game against Central Crossing on Jan. 10 looking to bounce back from lopsided losses in home games against OCC-Central foes Coffman (81-39 on Jan. 3) and UA (67-32 on Jan. 7).
Westland was 3-7 overall and 1-4 in the OCC-Central before playing the Comets.
The Cougars trailed Coffman 26-5 after one quarter and trailed UA 41-12 at halftime.
Javon Watson had 19 points against the Shamrocks to lead the Cougars, and Toury Freeman had a team-high 14 points against the Bears.
"We have to put this behind us. That's all we can do," coach Seth Martin said. "Going into these games, we knew we were going to have to try and take care of the basketball, limit their possessions. We just weren't able to do that. Their defensive pressure got to us in both games and forced us into some turnovers. We got down early in both games and weren't able to fight back."
Wrestlers getting set for 'Cats, Monarchs
The wrestling team will compete against two of the top teams in the OCC-Central when it faces host Hilliard Davidson and defending league champion Marysville on Thursday, Jan. 16.
Westland was 0-1 in the OCC-Central before competing against Coffman and Olentangy Liberty on Jan. 9. The Cougars lost to Thomas Worthington 51-21 in the league opener Dec. 19.
"We have big goals for the second part of the season," coach Bret Busby said. "We want to get the seniors to state, keep teaching the younger guys and to be good student-athletes at Westland."
Gymnastics team resumes schedule
The gymnastics team finished third in consecutive quad-meets after returning to action following the holiday break.
The Cougars scored 104.125 points to finish behind Olentangy Orange (120.7) and Central Crossing (115) and ahead of Franklin Heights (83.35) on Jan. 3 and scored 102 points to finish behind Central Crossing (121.55) and Marysville (110) and ahead of Franklin Heights (93.1) on Jan. 8.
In the latter meet, Avery Mills and Brenna Nutini tied for eighth in the all-around (28.0) to lead Westland.