The seniors on the Westland High School boys basketball team are hoping to prove a point.

The seniors on the Westland High School boys basketball team are hoping to prove a point.

Although the Cougars lost key players to graduation and others who transferred, the seniors feel they can still have a successful season.

Westland opens the season on Friday at Grove City.

The Cougars' biggest loss is senior Anthony Jackson, who decided to transfer to Gahanna when athletics were cancelled in the fall after voters rejected a school levy.

Voters approved a 7.4 million levy on Nov. 3, but Jackson has remained at Gahanna.

Jackson, who was a member of ThisWeek's Super 12 team last season, was named Player of the Year in the OCC-Central Division and earned first-team all-district honors after leading the Cougars in scoring, averaging 21.9 points per game.

"I like the effort," Parker said. "The kids are out there playing hard. I think they feel like they have something to prove. Not just the fact that Anthony is gone and some of the other guys are gone, but it's like a renewed energy because we didn't have sports. There's a lot of energy and the kids are excited to be out there."

Last season, Westland finished 6-15 overall and 4-10 in the division, behind Dublin Coffman (13-1), Upper Arlington (10-4), Hilliard Davidson (8-6), Hilliard Darby (7-7), Thomas Worthington (7-7) and Central Crossing (6-8), and ahead of Worthington Kilbourne (1-13).

Westland lost to Gahanna 56-42 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.

"I'd be happy if we'd go in and be competitive," Parker said. "We want to win our share. Last year I thought we were competitive, but we lost a few close games that would have made us better. This year, with our experience, I want to win the games we should and I don't want to lose any of those close ones because of mental mistakes."

The Cougars have four seniors with ample varsity experience.

Point guard Mike Tumblison (5-11, 150 pounds) averaged 12 points a game during the second half of last season.

"I feel like our seniors have a lot of chemistry together," Tumblison said. "We have a lot of underclassmen and I feel like they are stepping up to their roles and contributing to the team the way they have to."

Also back are guard Yusuf Abdi (6-1, 150), power forward Kalvin Cowsen (6-2, 185) and forward Roy Ray (6-0, 165).

Senior point guard Brandon Lewis (5-10, 150) saw time at the junior varsity level last season and is expected to contribute.

Juniors are guard/forward Zac Buchwalter (6-1, 150), forward Rafael Ventura (6-0, 175) and post player James Wilson (6-6, 240).

Sophomore Chase Blankenship (6-1, 160) can play guard or forward.

Parker expects promising freshman forward J.J. Smith to contribute.

Smith transferred to DeSales when the levy failed, but decided to return following the successful vote earlier this month.

"J.J. is a great talent," Parker said. "He's back and we're happy to have him. He's going to see a ton of time as a freshman."

Parker hopes his team can contend in the rugged OCC-Central, and expects Coffman to again be the team to beat.

"It's going to be very balanced after Coffman," Parker said. "I hope that we can sneak in that middle area. Kilbourne, Thomas, Darby and us were young last year. Now we're coming back and most of those kids have a year's experience. It will be more competitive, but Coffman should be loaded."


Dec. 4 at Grove City Dec. 5 vs. West *Dec. 8 vs. Hilliard Davidson *Dec. 11 at Dublin Coffman *Dec. 18 vs. Worthington Kilbourne *Dec. 22 at Thomas Worthington Dec. 28 at Reynoldsburg *Jan. 5 at Upper Arlington *Jan. 8 vs. Hilliard Darby Jan. 12 vs. Franklin Heights *Jan. 15 at Central Crossing *Jan. 22 at Hilliard Davidson *Jan. 26 vs. Dublin Coffman *Jan. 29 at Worthington Kilbourne *Feb. 2 vs. Thomas Worthington *Feb. 5 vs. Upper Arlington *Feb. 12 at Hilliard Darby Feb. 13 vs. Grove City Feb. 16 at Franklin Heights *Feb. 19 vs. Central Crossing

*OCC-Central game