Westland High School girls basketball coach Matt Jaynes believes small victories throughout the season will help continue the development of his program.
For the second consecutive season, the Cougars finished 5-18 overall after going 1-22 in Jaynes' first season in 2016-17.
Westland lost a key player from last season when senior Trinity McClure transferred to Columbus South. She averaged a team-high 25.7 points along with 4.9 rebounds last year and was named first-team all-OCC-Central Division, second-team all-district and special mention all-state.
"It's been fun with these girls after losing a 26-point a game all-Ohio girl and to come back and win as many games as we did," Jaynes said. "It says a lot about these 18 girls. They came out and fought hard. They worked their butts off. They wanted it every day. It says a lot about the program, too."
After a first-round bye in the Division I district tournament, 40th-seeded Westland lost at third-seeded Dublin Coffman 84-25 in the second round Feb. 20.
Freshman forward Hayden Kershaw led the Cougars with seven points and senior guard Shukri Abdikadir scored six.
"This is a teaching moment," Jaynes said. "We had a bad first quarter and we played hard in the second quarter and we really played hard in the second half. As long as we can keep playing hard and not give up that's what matters."
It was the Cougars' third loss to the Shamrocks this season after falling 93-20 and 88-8 in OCC-Central play.
Westland finished sixth in the league at 0-10, behind the champion Shamrocks (10-0).
The Cougars have lost 43 consecutive league games, with their last win coming against Central Crossing 37-35 on Nov. 27, 2015.
Senior forward Atira Hoard, who averaged 6.2 points and 10.4 rebounds through the first 21 games, was named second-team all-league. She had a program-record 33 rebounds in a 37-34 win over Whitehall last season.
"I believe we got so much better," said Hoard, who was one of five seniors. "We had girls who couldn't take a layup to now they're taking layups. They're finally throwing things up and making them. We got so much better from the start. ... I'm going to miss the girls and our practices and how much fun we had."
Abdikadir averaged 5.7 points and 6.8 rebounds through 21 games and was honorable mention all-league.
Abdikadir also received the Steve Hall Award, presented for sportsmanship by the District 10 Coaches Association. Hall was a longtime teacher and coach at Grandview who died in 2015.
The Cougars closed the regular season on a positive note, winning their final two games.
Kershaw scored 17 points to lead Westland to a 43-39 win over Mifflin on Feb. 19. Abdikadir and sophomore forward Hannah Kershaw each had eight points in a 39-32 win over Horizon Science on Feb. 9.
Others eligible to return are juniors Danielle Fout (guard), Bailey Garner (guard) and Rachael Kibbey (forward), sophomore Alexxus Phifer (guard) and freshman Rylee Bott (forward).
"We started 2-0 and we thought everything was going all right and we lose five games by a total of 21 points and in those five games we shoot 36 of 101 from the free-throw line," Jaynes said. "We were able to recover and still finish with the same record (as last season)."
Wrestling team takes second at St. Charles
The wrestling team entered the postseason coming off a second-place finish in the 12-team Nye Cardinal Classic on Feb. 16 at St. Charles.
Westland scored 173.5 points to finish behind Coffman (336).
Jakob Hurley won the title at 138 pounds. Tyler Jude (106) placed second and Trent Jude (113), Anthony Johnson (160), Andrew Sherman (195) and Kyle Newman (220) all finished third.
"I thought we wrestled well," coach Brent Allerding said. "There was some very good competition and I was pleased to see us wrestle confidently and aggressively from top to bottom."
Westland lost to visiting Upper Arlington 58-15 on Feb. 14 to finish fourth in the OCC-Central at 2-3, behind champion Coffman (5-0).
The Cougars competed in a 10-team Division I sectional Feb. 23 at Newark, with the top four finishers in each weight class advancing to district Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, at Hilliard Darby.
At district, the top four finishers in each weight class advance to state March 7-9 at Ohio State.
Boys basketball team falls to Comets
The boys basketball team closed the regular season with a 63-52 loss to visiting Central Crossing on Feb. 15 to finish 0-10 in the OCC-Central.
DeShawn Evans led the Cougars with 13 points. Hunter Corwin and Gaige Holbrook each added 10.
"The Central Crossing game was a fairly deflating game for all involved, especially coming off of the effort we had against New Albany," said coach Rob Hayes, whose team defeated New Albany 75-67 on Feb. 12. "We did a poor job of moving the basketball and a poor job guarding. When those two things happen, it's extremely hard to get a good result."
The 45th-seeded Cougars were 4-18 overall before playing at third-seeded Pickerington Central in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 23. The winner plays 44th-seeded Columbus West in the second round Friday, March 1.
Gymnastics team competes at district
The gymnastics team competed in the district meet Feb. 23 at Worthington Kilbourne.
The top three teams advanced to state Friday, March 1, and the top eight individuals in each event and the all-around advanced to state Saturday, March 2. Both meets are at Hilliard Bradley.