Boys Basketball: Tasos Cook looks to lead Westerville Central Warhawks on another postseason run
Tasos Cook admits he and his Westerville Central boys basketball teammates still reflect on last year – a banner season that ended in disappointment.
Led by Cook, the Warhawks earned the program’s first Division I district title with a 43-40 victory over Delaware, but the remainder of the postseason was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Central is again looking to advance past the district tournament, with its sights set on the state title.
“We’re ready,” said Cook, a 6-foot-2 senior guard. “We’re going to keep pushing from here and keep moving forward. … We’re not done yet, but time is flying. I talk to (2020 graduate) Will LeMaire about (last season) all the time. We always talk about last year’s tournament and the games from last year. It just motivates us to play good this year.”
The Warhawks are seeded second in the district tournament behind Gahanna and will begin the postseason against 38th-seeded Mount Vernon or 44th-seeded Westland in the second round Feb. 26 at home.
“We want to go as far as we can,” Cook said. “Hopefully COVID doesn’t stop us again like last year, but if that doesn’t happen, I feel like we can go all the way.”
Central and Gahanna split a pair of OCC-Ohio Division games, with the Warhawks avenging a 56-55 home loss Jan. 20 with a 65-64 road win Feb. 5.
Cook scored a game-high 23 points in the rematch, with M.J. Davis adding 13 and Quincy Clark 11.
Landon Tillman scored 14 points, Cook had 12 and Clark and Donovan Hunter each added 10 in a 53-38 win over visiting Newark on Feb. 8.
Coach Kevin Martin said the defensive effort the Warhawks delivered against the Wildcats would be needed throughout the postseason.
“This time of the year, every time you step out on the court, you want to be hard to score against,” Martin said. “We have a defensive identity. We need to solidify that’s who we are. We have plenty of capable scorers, so if we can just continue to get better on the defensive end, we have a chance to go a long way.”
Through 15 games, Cook was among the area scoring leaders, averaging 20.0 points. He also was averaging a team-best 6.0 rebounds.
He scored a program-record 36 points in a 65-55 win at Hilliard Davidson on Feb. 10. Thomas Hickman, a 2018 graduate, held the previous mark of 34.
Cook is not only the statistical leader in several categories for Central, he also has been one of the Warhawks’ emotional leaders, according to Martin.
Cook plans to play in college, but remains undecided on a school.
“Tasos is not done yet,” Martin said. “He’ll leave Westerville Central as one of the best players ever to play here, and then he’ll go on to bigger and better things after this. Whoever is going to get him next year in college is getting someone very special.”
Clark was second on the team in scoring at 11.1 points, followed by Tillman (8.5) and Hunter (6.7). Hunter was second (4.9) in rebounding.
Central was 14-2 overall and 6-2 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Westland on Feb. 12.
The Warhawks close the regular season Feb. 20 at New Albany.
Gahanna entered its game against Grove City on Feb. 12 first in the league at 7-1, with Central and Pickerington North tied for second.
Gahanna closes league play Feb. 19 against visiting North.
“This is the time of year where it’s the culmination of all your hard work that you put in up until now,” Martin said.