By BRYAN URBACH
Friday night showed just how similar two separate games of basketball can be.
Both of Westwood’s varsity teams went down to the last minute against district rival Central Heights and both teams came away on the wrong side of things.
First off was the varsity girls squad, which forced the game into overtime but ultimately lost 60-54.
In the last two minutes of the game, both teams started trading three-pointers and then traded two’s. The Lady Panthers stole the ball nine times from the Lady Devils.
With only a few seconds to go, Westwood’s Natali Muniz was fouled and sent to the line with Westwood down two points. Amidst distraction from the crowd, she sank both free throws to tie the game at 51.
As overtime commenced, Westwood couldn’t find enough offense to make it out of the game with the win. Muniz finished the game with 23 points, and fellow teammate Mi’Kayla Benson finished right behind her with 20 points.
On the varsity boys side, Westwood also had a string of comebacks during the match before ultimately losing 74-66 to the Blue Devils.
The Panthers (7-14. 1-1) got off to a slow start and lost the first quarter by way of a 19-13 scoring advantage for Central Heights.
At one point in the second quarter, Westwood was down 11 points before the defense showed up and started bothering the Blue Devils into giving up turnovers. The Panthers were able to bring the score to a six-point deficit heading into halftime.
“For us it came down to defensive stops,” said Westwood coach Scott Nettles. “There were times we couldn’t get the stops we needed. In the second quarter, though, we battled back from an 11- or 12-point game to get it close.”
D.J. Hicks and J.J. Turner provided sparks for the Panthers both on the offensive side and the defensive side of the ball — forcing a “good amount” of steals during the match.
“D.J. had a big night for him,” Nettles said. “He has been doing well distributing the ball all season, but he hasn’t scored the points. Tonight, he was able to get to the rim and score quickly.
“J.J. has been a consistent scorer for us all year,” he added. “We would’ve liked to get him more touches in the end of tonight’s ballgame. He needs the ball in his hands, but we’ve been doing a good job of that all year.”
The defensive pressure Westwood was able to put forth, Nettles said, was something he is glad to see starting to show, especially with district play starting.
“We played without our starting big man, so we had some shuffling that we had to do to try to make up for that. Size was a big factor in tonight’s game.”