By BRYAN URBACH
What started as a one-sided match, ended as a one-sided match.
The Westwood Lady Panthers came out strong in the first quarter and didn’t let up on the Lady Elks of Elkhart as they finished with an 81-17 victory.
In the first quarter, Westwood outscored the Lady Elks 21-4, with those four points being the only ones Elkhart scored in the entire first half as the team was held scoreless in the second quarter. Westwood went into halftime with a 40-4 lead.
“I think our kids did a great job of working on things that we’ve been concentrating on,” said Westwood coach Brandi McEnturff. “I thought we did a great job of passing the ball around in the first quarter. They did a great job of playing as a group no matter what five girls were out there.
“It was nice to see them pass the ball around and get the opportunities for us to score,” she added.
In the second half, Westwood came out with the same intensity as before and Elkhart had a little bit of a spark as well.
The Elks put up eight points in the third quarter, which would prove to be their highest total in a quarter on the night. Westwood, in turn, put up 22 points in the third.
In the fourth quarter, Westwood outscored Elkhart 19-5 to seal the quick victory against the Lady Elks.
“Elkhart is a tough team for us to play against,” McEnturff said. “They play hard every game. I felt like my kids did well at playing the defense that I wanted us to run. Our next three games as well, we’re going to be playing similar defenses to what Elkhart brought out tonight, so it was a good test for us.”
Elkhart’s Cook led the team in scoring with six points. For Westwood, Benson led the team with 19 points and Muniz finished with 14 points. Westwood’s Thomas also had a good night scoring as she finished with 13 points in the match.
Westwood (VB) 73, Elkhart 38
Westwood’s Dejuan Hickerson played in a new position tonight for the Panthers, and with his 30 points and 12 rebounds, aiding the team's strong first quarter start against the Elkhart Elks on Friday, giving them a 73-38 win
Westwood coach Scott Nettles said after the game that he was proud of the way his team came out and started playing in the first quarter.
“We had a couple players who couldn’t play this week because of grades so we only suited up seven guys to play in this game,” Nettles said. “We had a couple of guys who were asked to step up and play positions they’ve never played before or start whenever they haven’t started before.”
Hickerson played well, Nettles said, adding that he was proud of his ability to step up and play hard against a Dogwood Circle and district rival.
“Dejuan ... Dejuan just played an unbelievable game inside and outside,” Nettles said. “He played with energy and did a lot of really good things. That to me ... for having to jump into the starting lineup and play how he did, that was huge.”
On the other side, Elkhart’s coach Ryan Blackmon said his team could’ve done a lot better to try to stop Westwood’s furious attacking.
“We could’ve done a lot better in transition defense and half-court defense,” Blackmon said. “We have a relatively young team and we just need these guys to keep after it.”
The shining star for Elkhart Friday was Jeffery Wilson, who scored 13 points and had 10 rebounds. Blackmon said after the game that he was proud of the way Wilson performed on Friday night.
“Jeffery is a great athlete,” Blackmon said. “He has the ability to make his own shots. I thought he played good on the boards tonight. He was a little rusty offensively, but he’s a great kid. He just needs to be the leader that he naturally is with him being the senior on the team with all of the sophomores we have.”
Westwood’s defense ended up being the deciding factor in this game as it was able to shut down Elkhart’s offense in the second half.
Westwood outscored Elkhart 17-10 in the third quarter and 21-6 in the fourth quarter to put the game out of hand.
Both of these teams face tough opponents next week as Westwood takes on Central Heights and Elkhart takes on Woden.