Sur­vive and ad­vance

West­lake boys de­feat Patux­ent in 2A South play­off opener

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By ANDY STATES as­tates@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @cfh­philly

The film “La La Land” has been a crit­i­cal dar­ling this year, gar­ner­ing 14 Academy Awards nom­i­na­tions. But when West­lake head boys bas­ket­ball coach Ed Mou­ton spoke of his team be­ing in la la land fol­low­ing its win over Patux­ent on Fri­day night, there was noth­ing com­pli­men­tary about it.

“We have to re­fo­cus. That’s our mind­set right now. We just have to re­fo­cus and play West­lake bas­ket­ball,” Mou­ton said fol­low­ing West­lake’s 63-55 win over the vis­it­ing Pan­thers in the teams’ Class 2A South Re­gion Sec­tion I quar­ter­fi­nal. The win earned the Wolver­ines a sec­tion semi­fi­nal at sec- ond-seeded Calvert on Tues­day. “Right now we’re kind of in la la land. Once we start play­ing like we’re ca­pa­ble of, I think we’ll be fine. I know Calvert has been to our last three games scout­ing us, so I know they’ll be ready. But I think if we put 32 min­utes to­gether, we’ll be fine.”

West­lake (17-7), the sec­tion’s No. 3 seed, has strug­gled with putting com­plete games to­gether of late. The Wolver­ines fin­ished the sea­son on a three-game los­ing streak that fre­quently fea­tured slow starts from the team.

On Fri­day, the first three quar­ters were rela- tively strong for the hosts, as they held a 51-34 lead head­ing into the fi­nal quar­ter. But Patux­ent (518), the sec­tion’s sixth seed, opened the fi­nal pe­riod on a 10-0 run that fea- tured three-point­ers from Bren­dan West and Von­nie Watkins to quickly close the gap to 51-44 be­fore West­lake’s Jeff Sim­mons hit a three of his own to mo­men­tar­ily stop the bleed­ing.

Later, the Pan­thers closed to within 58-54 on a My­ron Young bucket with 1 minute 36 sec­onds re­main­ing. But the visi- tors could pull no fur­ther.

Wayne Young con­verted a pair of free throws with 1:30 left to pro­vide a lit­tle more breath­ing room, and con­verted 1 of 2 at­tempts with 48 sec­onds to play to make it a three-pos­ses­sion game, 61-54. Amir Law- rence was able to score on a layup in the fi­nal half-min- ute to seal the win for the Wolver­ines.

“We played very well for three quar­ters, then we got a lit­tle re­laxed in the fourth quar­ter,” Mou­ton said. “They were able to get it down to [four]. This time of year you have to play 32 min­utes. We were for­tu­nate to ex­e­cute at the end. We got a cou­ple of layups and a cou­ple free throws to fin­ish the game.”

Sim­mons and Young each scored 13 points to lead West­lake’s ef­fort, while Lawrence added 12. But the Wolver­ines strug- gled might­ily from the line, mak­ing just 13 free throws out of 36 at­tempts (36 per­cent) to al­low for the dra­matic fin­ish.

“I’m telling my team that this time of year ev­ery­body is gun­ning to make it as far as they can,” Mou­ton said. “We can’t play for three quar­ters and be sat­is­fied. We were up [17 at the end of three quar­ters] and then we just got real lack­adaisi­cal. Any team that’s try­ing to get to the next game is go­ing to keep fight­ing to the end. We just got com­pla­cent. We have to go back to the draw­ing board and be ready for Calvert on Tues­day.”

Watkins led the Pan­thers with a game-high 17 points, which in­cluded four rim-rat­tling dunks.

“Seven­teen points down in a quar­ter is tough to come back from,” Patux­ent head coach Nick Wil­son said, ref­er­enc­ing his team’s deficit at the end of three. “It was a great run. We hit some good shots. The turnovers are what killed us. I’d have to imag­ine we turned it over at least 30 times early on. Maybe if we do a bet­ter job with that in the first half, it’s a 10- or 12-point hole. Ev­ery time it felt like we were maybe go­ing to turn that cor­ner they got a steal. Their de­fense was good. The pres­sure was there and they were able to con­vert.”

STAFF PHOTO BY ANDY STATES West­lake’s Jeff Sim­mons drives to­wards the bas­ket with Patux­ent’s Troy Thomas de­fend­ing dur­ing Fri­day night’s 2A South Re­gion Sec­tion I quar­ter­fi­nal at West­lake. The hosts de­feated Patux­ent 63-55.

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