Westland High School boys basketball coach Todd Parker believes Kris Carius has emerged as one of the top centers in the district.

Westland High School boys basketball coach Todd Parker believes Kris Carius has emerged as one of the top centers in the district.

Before playing Worthington Kilbourne on Jan. 27, the 6-foot-7, 260-pound Carius led the Cougars in scoring at 12.8 points per game, followed by junior J.J. Smith at 11.1.

"Kris is one of the better big men in the area," Parker said. "I'd say top five or six. He just has to learn to slow down and use his size and just overpower people."

The Cougars saw their four-game winning streak snapped with a 61-60 loss to visiting Dublin Coffman on Jan. 24, but Carius scored a career-high 26 points.

"I felt pretty dominant out there, but my teammates were getting me the ball," Carius said.

He also helped hold 6-11 senior Eric Weisenbach of Coffman to two points.

"Kris did great," Parker said. "We told him all week that he was the better post man. We've been trying to build him up to attack. He's strong and we told him to overpower (Weisenbach). He overpowered him several times."

The Shamrocks outscored Westland 24-11 in the fourth quarter.

Kevin Marsh's two free throws with 4.5 seconds remaining gave Coffman the lead. He scored a team-high 21 points.

"The kids did a great job getting good shots (in the fourth quarter), but down the stretch against a good team you don't need good shots, you need great shots," Parker said. "We didn't make them and we didn't take great shots. We should have run some more time off (the clock) and shorten the game up a little bit better."

The Cougars had been unbeaten at home, having won their first four games.

"We're going in the right direction," Parker said. "It's just hurtful that the home court was perfect."

Westland plays host Friday, Feb. 3, to Thomas Worthington. The Cardinals won 53-41 on Dec. 20.

The game will feature Carius against 6-10 senior Jordan Cowgill of Thomas. In the first meeting, Carius scored 11 points and Cowgill had 21.

Carius, who also is a pitcher and first baseman on the baseball team, would like to play basketball or baseball in college. Parker said Capital, Defiance and Tiffin have shown interest for basketball.

"I don't know about college yet," said Carius, who batted .340 last season. "I have baseball, too. I like them both. I could try and do both."

In his sophomore basketball season, Carius split time between varsity and junior varsity. He emerged as a key varsity contributor as a junior, when he shared time at center with 2011 graduate James Wilson.

The Cougars completed a regular-season sweep of Hilliard Davidson by beating the Wildcats 63-55 on Jan. 20 as Carius scored 15 points.

Before Jan. 27, Upper Arlington led the OCC-Central Division at 8-1 and Coffman was second at 6-3. Westland, Davidson, Thomas and Kilbourne were tied for third at 5-4, followed by Hilliard Darby (2-7) and Central Crossing (0-9).

Westland plays host to UA on Feb. 7. The Golden Bears defeated the Cougars 61-53 on Jan. 3.

"We'll bounce back," Carius said. "We're going to be good."

•The wrestling team closes its league schedule Thursday, Feb. 2, at Central Crossing.

"We are very excited to wrestle Central Crossing," said coach Bret Busby, whose team was 0-5 in the league before facing Upper Arlington on Jan. 26. "It should be a close match. We are excited to wrestle Vince Pickett at 170 (pounds). He could win the state title and it would be great for our district."

Pickett is a two-time state qualifier.

In his sophomore season, the failed South-Western City Schools levy forced Pickett to move to Williamsport Westfall, where he finished eighth at 145 in the Division III state tournament.

Last year after returning to Central Crossing, he finished fourth in Division I at 160, losing by pin in 2 minutes, 22 seconds to Tylan Coleman of Mayfield in the third-place match.