The Westland High School boys basketball team's determination to improve and its desire to win were evident by the emotion displayed after a 57-54 home loss to Marysville on Jan. 17.
The Cougars had lost to the Monarchs 77-64 on Jan. 11 in the first round of OCC-Central Division play and took them to the wire in the rematch, only to see Jevon Knox hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Marysville the win.
"We were pretty devastated," senior guard Isaiah Evans said. "We had some people crying over the loss. It was a tough loss, but we battled all the way back and tried to finish it at the end and, for (Knox) to hit (the 3-point shot) in the last second, it was pretty bad."
Westland was 4-10 overall and 2-6 in the OCC-Central before playing Thomas Worthington on Jan. 24.
"We're definitely getting better," coach Seth Martin said. "From a competition standpoint, we're really competing, really playing hard. We're getting better on offense and on defense."
Toury Freeman had 23 points in the rematch with Marysville to lead the Cougars. Javon Watson added 11 points and Jaquan Henry scored 10.
Westland had 26 turnovers against the Monarchs.
"We still have to cut down the mental errors and the turnovers," Martin said. "The last few games, the turnovers are what really got us. It's something we know we can continue to work on. The effort is definitely there and the guys are really improving."
Through 14 games, Freeman was averaging a team-high 17.4 points and Watson was averaging 15.
"We're looking to finish the second half (of OCC-Central play) with a winning record and trying to bring (our overall record) back to .500 and finish out strong," Evans said. "Hopefully, we'll make a little run in the postseason."
Girls basketball team stays in league race
The girls basketball team rebounded from a four-game losing streak to win four of its next five to remain in contention for the OCC-Central championship.
The Cougars were 10-5 overall and 7-2 in the OCC-Central before playing Thomas Worthington on Jan. 24. Entering play Jan. 24, they were tied with Dublin Coffman and Olentangy Liberty for second in the league behind Upper Arlington (8-1).
Westland lost at UA 47-45 on Jan. 7 and will play host to the Golden Bears on Feb. 7.
"We have to take care of what's in front of us and just let the pieces fall where they fall," coach Hugo Quint said.
Westland has two league games this week, as it plays host to Hilliard Davidson on Tuesday, Jan. 28, and travels to Liberty on Friday, Jan. 31. The Cougars defeated the Wildcats 61-53 on Dec. 17 and beat the Patriots 48-36 on Dec. 20.
Westland built a 24-6 lead over visiting Canal Winchester on Jan. 21 en route to a 65-35 win.
"I was really surprised how things started," Quint said. "We had our best offensive quarter (in) the first quarter. We played well on the defensive side."
Christina Simpson had a team-high 20 points against the Indians, followed by Tanesha Dixon with 14 points and Camryn Moreno with 10.
Westland lost to DeSales 59-58 on Jan. 18 at home in the Ervin Crenshaw Classic.
The Cougars had an opportunity to win in the waning moments but turned the ball over with 6 seconds left.
Simpson had 16 points and Brooke Pannell scored 13.
"We had some defensive breakdowns and DeSales capitalized on the breakdowns," Quint said.
Simpson was averaging a team-high 13.9 points through 15 games, followed by Dixon at 11.3.
Wrestling team falls in state team tourney
The wrestling team opened the Division I state team tournament by defeating ninth-seeded Columbus West 59-20 in the preliminary round before losing to top-seeded Hilliard Bradley 73-0 in the first round.
Both matches were held Jan. 22 at Bradley.
Westland, which was seeded eighth in Region 6-A, won eight matches by pin against West. Those winners were Ethan Laver at 106 pounds (48 seconds), Steven Park at 120 (22 seconds), Jack Little at 132 (5:47), Dustin Higginbotham at 145 (51 seconds), Josh Brown at 160 (22 seconds), Tommy Stone at 170 (1:58), Arnold Cruz at 182 (4:50) and Julio Marquez at 195 (2:56).