After winning its first six games, including its first five OCC-Central Division contests, the Westland High School girls basketball team had hopes of winning its first league title since the 2002-03 season.
However, the Cougars won only four of their next 10 games, with three of the losses coming in league play. Entering play Jan. 30, they were 8-3 in the OCC-Central, behind Upper Arlington (10-1) and Dublin Coffman (8-2) and a half-game ahead of Olentangy Liberty (7-3).
While not mathematically eliminated from league title contention entering play Jan. 30, Westland had turned its attention to preparing for the postseason.
"We're all disappointed because we had something big that we could have achieved and we let it slip away," senior guard Tanesha Dixon said. "Regardless of our standing (in the OCC-Central), we can end on a high note this year."
Westland, which was 11-6 overall before playing Liberty on Jan. 31, is hoping to regain momentum for the Division I district tournament. The tournament draw is Sunday, Feb. 2, with first-round games starting Feb. 15.
The Cougars lost to visiting Thomas Worthington 65-60 in an OCC-Central game Jan 24 but bounced back to defeat Hilliard Davidson 47-43 in a league game Jan. 29 at home, rallying from a double-digit, first-half deficit.
Davidson was 3-16 overall and 1-10 in the OCC-Central before playing UA on Jan. 31.
"At the beginning of the year, I said you have to respect your opponents no matter what their record is," said coach Hugo Quint, whose team had defeated Davidson 61-53 on Dec. 17 in the first round of league play. "People are going to knock each other off. You have to come with your 'A' game every night. I give (Davidson) all the credit."
Westland trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half and went into halftime down 27-25. The Cougars outscored the Wildcats 10-7 in the third quarter, taking their first lead of the game since early in the first quarter on a baseline drive by Dixon as time expired, and 12-9 in the fourth.
Westland opened a seven-point lead in the final quarter, only to see Davidson tie the game at 43 with 1 minute, 40 seconds remaining before scoring the final four points on a free throw from both Christina Simpson and Dixon and a basket by Dixon with 8 seconds left.
Dixon had a game-high 20 points for the Cougars, who were only 8-for-23 from the foul line.
Against Thomas, Simpson had 22 points and Dixon scored 17.
Boys basketball team ends four-game skid
The boys basketball team ended a four-game losing streak by defeating host Davidson 62-52 in an OCC-Central game Jan. 29.
Westland was 5-10 overall and 3-7 in the OCC-Central before playing Liberty on Jan. 31.
The Cougars trailed Davidson 38-37 after three quarters before outscoring the Wildcats 25-14 in the fourth.
Toury Freeman and Javon Watson each scored 19 points to lead the Cougars.
"That was a big one for us," coach Seth Martin said. "I told the kids that was one we really needed to get. It was a must win for us. We wanted to get another conference victory."
Freeman had 21 points and Watson scored 12 in a 51-43 league loss to host Thomas on Jan. 24.
Wrestling team getting set for UA, postseason
The wrestling team will close out the regular season on Thursday, Feb. 6, with an OCC-Central dual at UA.
Westland, which competed in the All-North Tournament on Feb. 1 at Dublin Jerome, was 0-5 in the league before competing against Central Crossing on Jan. 30.
"I'm very happy," coach Bret Busby said. "I'm so proud of our kids. They're fighting hard. Being in that OCC (division), we have taken some lumps, but we're over those lumps and we made it through it."
After facing UA, Westland will prepare for a Division I sectional tournament Feb. 15 at Pickerington Central.
The top four finishers in each weight class at sectional advance to district Feb. 21 and 22 at Hilliard Darby.
Westland went 2-2 in the six-team Wildcat Duals on Jan. 25 at Westerville South.
The Cougars defeated Liberty Union 52-30 and a combined team from Independence and Columbus South 61-12 and lost to Westerville South 39-27 and St. Charles 36-30.
Westerville South defeated St. Charles 43-27 in the title match.
The Cougars won three matches in a 56-12 loss to host Olentangy Orange on Jan. 23, including Tommy Stone, who won by pin (1:36) at 170 pounds.