Although he believes his team made some progress this winter, Westland High School boys basketball coach Rob Hayes knows the Cougars have a ways to go to accomplish their goals.
Westland finished 4-19 overall and went winless for the second consecutive season in the OCC-Central Division at 0-10, placing sixth behind champion Dublin Coffman (9-1).
"Part of the process was to get to the point where we could show that we could play good basketball and we did that, but there's a difference between playing good basketball and playing winning basketball," said Hayes, who completed his third season. "Winning basketball requires more discipline and winning basketball requires more cohesion and more of the five guys operating as one than what we had for most of the year."
Westland was seeded 45th of 47 teams in the Division I district tournament and lost at third-seeded Pickerington Central 85-33 on Feb. 23 in the first round.
Senior guard/forward DeShawn Evans averaged a team-high 14.6 points along with 4.6 rebounds. He was named honorable mention all-district and all-league.
"I feel like I had a good season with solid scoring for my team," Evans said. "I had a lot of fun with my teammates and played every game for them. Obviously we weren't happy with the wins and losses, but I'm happy I could help the young guys develop and be better for the rest of their careers and I'm excited to watch them play."
Evans, who also was a standout quarterback for the football team, will play that sport at Notre Dame College in South Euclid.
"He will leave a huge mark on the school to be in the position that he was in, (playing) in the most viewed sports that are in the building," Hayes said. "He was a kid that received a lot of criticism and kept working and got to the point where he set the goal of playing at the college level and playing a position he's played for a long time. I'm really excited for him."
Westland received a solid effort in the first half of the season from junior guard/forward Kalil Camara, a move-in from Philadelphia who averaged 12.5 points and three rebounds in 11 games. He was forced to miss the second half of the season because of Ohio High School Athletic Association transfer rules.
Hayes expects Camara to return next season and again be a solid contributor.
Another key returnee should be 6-foot-6 junior forward Eric Panning, who averaged 8.8 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds.
Senior guard Gaige Holbrook averaged 8.5 points and junior forward Rece Evans averaged 6.7 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Others eligible to return are juniors Hunter Corwin (guard), Karim Coumbassa (guard/forward), Mickey Martinez (forward), Fallou McMath (guard) and Miguel Webb (forward), sophomore Derrick Bogay (guard/forward) and freshman Sohn McGee (guard).
Along with the Cougars improving their overall play, Hayes is hoping for better results in the OCC-Central. They have lost 29 consecutive league games since an 89-83 win at Marysville on Dec. 9, 2016.
"The league is super frustrating," Hayes said. "What we're trying to focus on is identifying kids who really believe and desire for Westland basketball to be something different than what it's been. It almost feels like when all you've seen is one thing throughout your career, you start to feel that's what's going to happen. We're really trying to attack that mentality because we have the capability to jump some teams in the league."
Westland defeated Columbus West 76-72 on Dec. 3, Franklin Heights 57-52 on Jan. 8, KIPP Columbus 76-60 on Feb. 4 and New Albany 75-67 on Feb. 12.
Wrestlers compete at district tourney
Five members of the wrestling team competed in the Division I district tournament March 1 and 2 at Hilliard Darby.
Leading the way was senior Andrew Sherman, who finished fifth at 195 pounds and was an alternate for the state tournament March 7-9 at Ohio State. The top four finishers in each weight class at district advanced to state.
Sherman went 4-2 at district to improve to 40-9 for the season.
Freshman Trent Jude went 3-3 at 113 to finish sixth at 113 and close the season 35-13.
Freshman Tyler Jude, Trent's twin brother, went 2-2 at 106 to finish 38-13.
Sophomore Bryson Palmer went 1-2 at 126 to finish 33-11, and freshman Jakob Hurley went 1-2 at 138 to finish 39-7.
Westland recorded 32 points to finish 19th behind champion Coffman (170) as 36 teams scored.