Wolverines impose their will
Westlake uses defense to beat Lackey in 2A South section final
Entering the Class 2A South Region playoffs, the Westlake boys basketball team was on a three-game losing skid. Since then, the Wolverines have put that bugaboo behind them with stalwart defense.
In Thursday night’s 2A South Section I championship, third-seeded Westlake put the clamps down on top-seeded Lackey in the second half en route to a 63-46 victory in Indian Head.
With the game tied at 17 midway through the second quarter, West- lake ended the first half on a 13-4 run and took a 12-point lead at the end of three quarters. In the final period, the Wolverines held their ground as they made shots tough around the basket for Lackey and forced numerous turnovers, turning them into easy baskets at the other end.
After leading 12-11 after the first quarter, Westlake outscored the Chargers 51-35 in the last three quarters.
The Wolverines (19-8 overall) advanced to their fourth straight regional championship game, but fell in the 2A South final, 88-72.
Last season, Westlake fell to Gwynn Park 79-69 in Brandywine in the 2A South title game.
“Four years in a row we are in the regional cham- pionship,” said Westlake head coach Edward Mouton Sr., who is one win away from his 100th ca- reer victory while at the helm of the Wolverines. “We were in a three-game slump, but we are jelling at the right time in the playoffs. We’ve improved our defense and are creat- ing turnovers and turning them into points.”
Westlake senior Jeff Simmons, the team’s leading scorer at 21 points per contest, finished with 23 points on the night to go along with five steals.
Junior Jaimon Cheek was a force inside, finish- ing with a double-double of 14 points and 12 re- bounds, while senior Amir Lawrence also had his way in the paint to add 11 points and nine rebounds.
“This was definitely our biggest win of the season and this gives us some momentum for the regional final,” Simmons said. “In the second half, we just limited Lackey’s second-chance opportuni- ties and got the ball out in transition. We knew what it felt like to lose in the region final last year, so we want this one. We want to get to states.”
Westlake led 34-21 early in the third quarter, but Lackey did not go away as it went on an 11-1 run that was capped by a three-pointer from senior Destin Ingram (teamhigh 13 points), cutting the Wolverines’ lead to 3532 with 4 minutes 30 sec- onds left in the quarter.
However, Westlake responded with an 11-2 run that was capped by a Sim- mons three at the buzzer to push the lead to 46-34 entering the fourth.
“I knew Lackey had a short bench. We just mixed it up into a 3-2 zone and a half court man-toman defense,” Mouton said. “We wanted to make them earn it and make things tough.”
The Chargers did not get any closer than 10 points in the final period as Westlake was able to control the tempo for the rest of the game. The Wolverines connected on 14 of 20 free throws (70 percent) in the game, with Simmons going 9 of 10.
Lackey (17-7), which defeated Thomas Stone 81-75 in overtime in Tuesday’s section semifinal, was without its leading scorer and senior guard Hakeem Everett, who was suspended for Thursday’s game. Lackey head coach Sean Fox did not disclose the reason for the suspension.
“Westlake just executed a little better than us, made tough shots and got to the basket and we missed our opportunities,” Fox said. “It was tough not having Hakeem’s scoring, but I couldn’t have asked for a better effort for our guys for playing hard until the final buzzer sounded. I’m happy that as a first-year coach we had one of the best seasons in eight years here.”
Westlake senior Amir Lawrence blocks Vincent Parker of Lackey shot attempt in the first half of Thursday night’s Class 2A South Region Section I boys basketball final. Westlake won the contest 63-46 to advance to Saturday’s regional championship game.