Tanesha Dixon came through in the clutch for the Westland High School girls basketball team in its postseason opener.
The senior point guard made two free throws with 14.8 seconds remaining to lift the 19th-seeded Cougars to a 40-39 win over 18th-seeded and host New Albany in the second round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 19.
The postseason win was the first for Dixon in her prep career and Westland's first since 2005.
"My knees were shaking," Dixon said. "We had to finish because the game was close and we needed (the free throws). We needed them bad, so I had to finish and capitalize."
Westland, which had a first-round bye, improved to 13-10 and advanced to play top-seeded Reynoldsburg or 45th-seeded Columbus West in a district semifinal Thursday, Feb. 27, at Bloom-Carroll.
The Cougars did not play either team during the regular season. Reynoldsburg, which was ranked 10th in the final state poll, defeated 47th-seeded Groveport 93-13 in the first round Feb. 17 and was 19-4 before playing West on Feb. 20.
"I don't care," coach Hugo Quint said when asked about the strong probability of facing Reynoldsburg. "The bottom line is, why would I not put my seniors in a position like this to have fun?"
The semifinal winner will play 11th-seeded Gahanna, 12th-seeded Hilliard Bradley or 17th-seeded Westerville South in a district final Saturday, March 1, at Ohio Dominican University.
The Cougars did not play any of those teams during the regular season.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal March 4 at Otterbein University.
Westland held only two leads against New Albany -- 3-0 on a 3-pointer by Christina Simpson early in the first quarter and 40-39 after Dixon closed the scoring with the two late-game free throws.
"I have more faith in her than she has in herself," Quint said of Dixon.
Westland trailed 39-34 with 45 seconds remaining before Dixon scored the game's final six points.
Dixon led the Cougars with 15 points and Simpson and Sarah Demana each scored nine. Demana's total was her season high.
"Sarah Demana stepped up," Quint said.
New Albany attempted three shots in the waning seconds after Dixon had given the Cougars the lead, but Meche'la Cobb and Brooke Isabel both missed a shot inside and Kaitlyn Gliha missed a shot from the perimeter as time expired.
"This is pretty good for the kids," Quint said of the win.
Boys basketball team skids into postseason
The boys basketball team enters the postseason on a six-game losing streak.
Westland is seeded 37th of 45 teams in the Division I district tournament and had a first-round bye. It will play fifth-seeded Newark or 43rd-seeded Central Crossing in the second round Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the home of the higher seed.
The Cougars did not play Newark during the regular season but split its OCC-Central games against Central Crossing, winning 71-62 on Jan. 10 and losing 57-53 on Feb. 14 in their regular-season finale to fall to 5-17 overall.
The second-round winner will face 15th-seeded Rey-noldsburg, 20th-seeded Briggs or 28th-seeded Chillicothe in a district semifinal March 4 at Olentangy Liberty.
Toury Freeman led the Cougars with 21 points in the loss to Central Crossing. Javon Watson scored 12 and Jaquan Henry added 10.
"We talked to the kids about how Central Crossing was going to want that game bad and give all the credit to them," coach Seth Martin said. "Their kids came out and played their tails off. They outplayed us.
"We had stretches where we played well, but we lost focus a little bit at times and they didn't and they came away with a big win."
Westland finished 3-11 in the OCC-Central to tie Hilliard Davidson for sixth, behind Upper Arlington (13-1), Liberty (11-3), Dublin Coffman (10-4), Thomas Worthington (8-6) and Marysville (7-7) and ahead of Central Crossing (1-13).
Two wrestlers qualify for district tourney
Two members of the wrestling team qualified for the Division I district tournament held Feb. 21 and 22 at Hilliard Darby.
Tommy Stone (170 pounds) and Fernando Lagunas (220) both placed fourth in the 11-team sectional Feb. 15 at Pickerington Central to advance. Blake Rece (106) placed fifth and was a district alternate.
Entering district, Stone had a 24-12 record and Lagunas was 9-5.
The top four finishers in each weight class at district advanced to the state tournament that runs Thursday, Feb. 27, through Saturday, March 1, at Ohio State.
Westland scored 59 points at sectional to finish ninth behind champion Teays Valley (229).
Gymnasts compete in district tourney
The gymnastics team competed in the district meet Feb. 22 at Worthington Kilbourne.
The top three teams advanced to the team state meet Friday, Feb. 28, at Hilliard Bradley, and the top eight finishers in each event and the all-around advanced to the individual state meet Saturday, March 1, at Bradley.