Westland Roundup: Cougars girls basketball team concludes 'fun' but difficult season
Second-year Westland girls basketball coach Nina Napolitano believes her team made the best of a season hampered by injuries and the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The Cougars went 2-13 overall and 0-10 in the OCC-Ohio Division, but Napolitano said she saw improvement.
“I enjoyed the season,” Napolitano said. “Despite all of the COVID procedures and protocols, we still made the most out of this year. It was fun.”
Westland went 5-18 overall and 0-10 in the OCC-Central in Napolitano’s first season.
The Cougars opted not to compete in the Division I district tournament, instead closing the season with a 68-30 win over Columbus West on Feb. 17 in a regular-season game.
Senior guard Alexxus Phifer led Westland with 20 points. Senior forward Hannah Kershaw had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and freshman forward Hayleigh Thompson scored a season-high eight points.
Westland also beat Horizon Science 61-10 on Jan. 27. The Cougars finished sixth in the OCC-Ohio behind champion Gahanna (10-0) and have lost 63 consecutive games in league play.
“It was a tough decision (to not play in the postseason),” Napolitano said. “It was one of those low points in our season where the kids were tired. We just came off some injuries. It was a hard decision to withdraw from it, but it was the right decision. The kids were happy with finishing with a game (where) we were competitive.”
Napolitano said contributions from her seniors, who also included forwards Da-Miya Alderson and Lyhea Correa, were key to the team’s progress.
“Our message to the seniors was thank you,” Napolitano said. “They did a tremendous job this year. This wasn’t the senior season that they wanted, but they did a great job trying to keep spirits up, playing hard and encouraging one another. They pulled together to have a pretty good senior year. I’m proud of them.”
Kershaw averaged team highs of 7.6 points and 8.9 rebounds. Phifer averaged 5.5 points and Alderson averaged 5.7 rebounds.
Napolitano hopes the return of juniors Hayden Kershaw (center) and Taylor Bronson (guard) from injuries will provide a boost next season.
Hayden Kershaw missed the season with a knee injury and Bronson was lost early in the year with a broken wrist.
Last season, Hayden Kershaw averaged a team-high 8.5 points and was honorable mention all-league.
Others eligible to return are juniors Alex Carlton (guard), Chyna Trois (guard) and Brianna Woods (guard/forward), sophomore Katherine Bonilla (guard) and freshmen Lorelei Jones (guard) and Elizabeth Perry (guard).
in league meet
The gymnastics team competed in the OCC-Central meet Feb. 20 at Thomas Worthington, finishing seventh (59.225) behind champion Dublin Coffman (137.275).
Emily France led the Cougars with a 24.0 in the all-around. Chloe Sanchez (23.725) and Kaylee Seabolt also participated.
“Our girls did really well,” assistant coach Brittany Maynard said. “Chloe and Emily competed in the all-around and it was one of their better meets. They threw some new skills onto events that they were working on. They were very proud of themselves for that.”
Westland competed in the district meet Feb. 27 at Worthington Kilbourne. The top three teams advanced to the state team meet March 5 at Hilliard Bradley, while the top eight finishers in each event and the all-around qualified for the individual state meet March 6 at Bradley.
Boys basketball team
loses postseason opener
The 44th-seeded boys basketball team closed the season with a 64-50 loss at 38th-seeded Mount Vernon in the first round of the Division I district tournament Feb. 23 to finish 3-17 overall.
Mike Dingess connected on five 3-pointers and finished with 15 points for Westland. Maleek Knight and Drew Panning each added 11 points.
The Cougars closed the regular season with a 67-44 loss to visiting Grove City on Feb. 18 to finish 0-10 in the OCC-Ohio. Derrick Bogay led Westland with 19 points and Dingess added 11.
•Record: 2-13 overall
•OCC-Ohio standings: Gahanna (10-0), New Albany (8-2), Grove City and Pickerington North (5-5), Westerville Central (2-8), Westland (0-10)
•Seniors lost: Da-MiyaAlderson, Lyhea Correa, Hannah Kershaw and Alexxus Phifer
•Key returnees: Hayden Kershaw and Chyna Trois
•Postseason: Did not compete in Division I district tournament