Although his team doesn't have the record he expected, Westland boys basketball coach Rob Hayes is looking for a strong second half of the season once the Cougars return to full strength.
The Cougars entered the season with high hopes, but were 2-9 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Central Crossing on Jan. 10. It was the final game in the first round of league play.
"Being (2-9) is not what I thought it was going to be," Hayes said. "We're playing good basketball against really good teams early in the year. I knew going into the beginning of the year there were some things that were still not ironed out the way we wanted them to be. ... Winning takes a different effort."
Before facing Central Crossing, the Cougars had played the previous three games without 6-foot-8 senior forward Eric Panning, who sprained his right ankle in a 70-68 win over Franklin Heights in the Best of the South-West tournament consolation game Dec. 28 at home.
Hayes was hoping Panning would return against Central Crossing.
"It's only up from here," senior guard Kalil Camara said. "Not only are we getting better without our best player, Eric, chemistry-wise we're synching. We're getting better and better every day."
Westland earned its second win by defeating host Franklin Heights 72-56 on Jan. 7. Camara led the way with a career-high 28 points.
"It was a good win, we all had fun and we executed at the end of the game," Camara said. "We got the job done."
Kenan Lay made three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points.
"There were a lot of smiles in the locker room and that's a good thing," Hayes said. "It was something that we've been waiting on in terms of our performance and people doing what we need them to do in every role. Not just scoring the basketball, but people rebounding, people stepping in and helping defensively in spots. It was better basketball than we've played in a while."
Westland opened the Best of the South-West tournament with a 56-41 loss to Grove City on Dec. 27. Camara led the Cougars with 12 points.
Camara scored 16 points and Hunter Corwin added 11 in a 66-40 loss to Dublin Scioto on Dec. 30, and Corwin scored seven points in a 39-28 loss to Hilliard Davidson on Jan. 3.
Westland begins the second half of league play Friday, Jan. 17, at Marysville.
Entering play Jan. 10 against Central Crossing, the Cougars were looking to snap a 33-game league losing streak. Westland's last league win was an 89-83 victory over Marysville on Dec. 9, 2016.
Wrestlers finish 17th at Mansfield
The wrestling team finished 17th (50.5) of 37 teams in the 58th annual J.C. Gorman Invitational on Jan. 4 at Mansfield Senior behind champion Ashland (184).
Trent Jude was second at 120 pounds and Seth Aldridge was eighth at 145 to lead the Cougars.
Girls basketball team looking for turnaround
The girls basketball team entered its league contest against Central Crossing on Jan. 10 looking to end a three-game losing streak.
The Cougars were 2-8 overall and 0-4 in the OCC- Central.
Christine Johnson scored 10 points in a 46-33 loss to visiting Franklin Heights on Jan. 7.
Below are the coming schedules for the Westland boys basketball, girls basketball, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
Jan. 13 -- At Grandview
*Jan. 17 -- At Marysville. The Cougars lost to the Monarchs 63-54 on Dec. 6.
Jan. 15 -- Home vs. Hamilton Township
*Jan. 16 -- Home vs. Hilliard Davidson
*Jan. 17 -- Home vs. Marysville. The Cougars lost to the Monarchs 84-27 on Dec. 6.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 13 -- Centennial Invitational at Columbus Aquatics Center
Jan. 18 -- Central Crossing, Fairfield Union, Groveport and Hamilton Township at Urbancrest YMCA
*Jan. 16 -- At Davidson