When the Westland High School boys basketball team won at Marysville 89-83 on Dec. 9 in its second game of the season, coach Scott Vayansky was hoping it was a sign of good things to come.
Instead, the Cougars won only one more time and finished 2-21 overall.
Westland's other win came against Horizon Science, a Division II program, 78-63 on Feb. 14 to snap an 18-game losing streak.
"We thought we'd win a few more and there were games we could have won," Vayansky said. "Different things didn't break right or we'd have a two- or three-minute stretch that put us behind. There were definitely more winnable games that we had that we didn't take advantage of and couldn't close the deal."
After a first-round bye in the Division I district tournament, the 47th-seeded Cougars lost a second-round game at top-seeded Pickerington Central 112-55 on March 3. Sophomore guard DeShawn Evans scored 17 points, senior guard Josh Douglas had 12 and junior forward Zach Winegardner added 10.
The other seniors on the roster were guard Ben Harris, who transferred from Springfield before his junior year, and forward V.J. McGee.
Harris averaged 12.9 points and was named second-team all-OCC-Central Division and honorable mention all-district.
"The past two years really helped me grow as a player," Harris said. "It made me learn that you're not always going to have someone else to rely on ... every night. Sometimes you have to take it and do it yourself."
Evans averaged 12.5 points and was honorable mention all-league.
Sophomore forward Peyton Harris, Ben's brother, averaged 9.3 points and 4.4 rebounds.
Winegardner averaged 7.9 points and a team-best 5.4 rebounds. Douglas averaged 7.4 points, and sophomore guard Gaige Holbrook averaged 6.9 points.
"I'll have some good memories of the program," Douglas said. "My best memory is even though we didn't have a good season, we still practiced hard, played hard, we always kept our heads up and were real close as a team."
Juniors Danile Beckham (guard), Mitch Burns (guard) and Ilyas Nur (guard) and sophomore Anthony Widen (forward) also are eligible to return.
The Cougars went 1-9 in the OCC-Central to finish sixth behind Upper Arlington (9-1), Dublin Coffman (7-3), Hilliard Davidson (7-3), Central Crossing (3-7) and Marysville (3-7).
Coffman, Davidson and UA all reached district finals.
"We have to work harder," Vayansky said. "Eight teams that we played this year were in district semifinals and some of those were league teams so we play them twice. We're in a tough league (and have) a tough schedule, so we have to work harder to improve and get better because the teams we play are definitely working hard."
Westland lost twice to rival Central Crossing, 79-69 on Jan. 20 and 83-74 on Feb. 17.
The Cougars were competitive in several games, including losses to Watkins Memorial (76-71 on Dec. 23), Franklin Heights (83-76 on Jan. 3), Canal Winchester (60-50 on Jan. 10), Marysville (69-67 on Jan. 27) and Granville (49-45 on Feb. 11).
Wrestling coach Chas McCutcheon was pleased that his team gained valuable experience this season.
"Overall, we had a lot of young wrestlers get a lot of varsity experience this season that will be good for them for next year," McCutcheon said. "We had some first-year wrestlers that were in the varsity lineup, so they definitely got an eye-opener as to what the OCC looks like when it comes to wrestling."
Three wrestlers qualified for the Division I district tournament March 3 and 4 at Hilliard Darby.
Junior Soriba Kaba went 1-2 at 220 pounds to finish 25-19. He defeated Worthington Kilbourne's Sam Beerman 16-4 in a consolation match and scored his team's only two points, as the Cougars finished 41st behind champion Olentangy Liberty (236.5) as 42 teams scored.
Freshman Edgar Cruz went 0-2 at 106 to finish 26-18, and senior Willie Juarez went 0-2 at 126 to finish 23-23.
"The kids were definitely happy with the experience (at district)," McCutcheon said.
The Cougars finished seventh (82) in an 11-team sectional Feb. 25 at UA behind champion Olentangy Orange (240).
Cruz finished third and Juarez and Kaba placed fourth to earn district berths. Senior Jacob Lewis, who McCutcheon said faced injuries and a family issue this season, went 1-3 at 182 to finish 11-11.
Other key wrestlers eligible to return include juniors Angel Gasca (120), Paris Green (145) and Steve McPeek (132) and sophomores Angel Lopez (113) and Andrew Sherman (170, 20-21).
Westland went 0-5 in the OCC-Central to finish sixth behind Coffman (5-0), Marysville (4-1), UA (3-2), Davidson (2-3) and Central Crossing (1-4).