By MICHAEL S. ADAMS
H-P Sports Writer
The “Crockett Curse” is over.
Westwood defeated Crockett 83-79 Tuesday night at Panther Gymnasium giving a male varsity team their first win over the Bulldogs in eight years.
Sophomore Gralyn Crawford led a young Panther roster, featuring two seniors, one junior, three sophomores and three freshmen, with a game-high 28 points.
“We have been building up to this,” head coach David Reed said. “They played with a lot of maturity, but I think we have been maturing a little each game over the whole process.”
Freshman Terrance Sparkman added a game-high eight rebounds while sophomore Marvin Warren was one of three Panthers scoring in double-digits with 14 points.
Sparkman was playing in his first varsity game while Warren was in just his second varsity game. Warren has scored in double digits in Westwood’s last two games.
“They were not scared to step up and play,” Reed said. “The sky is the limit for these kids.”
Sophomore Zach Gardner added 18 points in Westwood’s victory while going 4-of-7 from the three-point line.
“Zach played very (Cannon) Earp like tonight,” Reed said. “In the fourth quarter he stepped up and I was ready to give him a rest, but he just started draining threes.”
Crockett’s Cannon Earp, who single-handedly beat Westwood (2-8, 8-15) in the two team’s first game scoring 19 of his 34 points in the third quarter, was held to just 19 points and was 4-of-11 from the three-point line.
Earp started Tuesday’s game where he left off, draining two NBA range three-point field goals in the first quarter to aid Crockett in taking a 23-18 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Earp would be held to just four points in the second quarter as Westwood opened with a 7-2 run to tie the game at 25 with 4:43 left to play in the first half.
Crockett extended the lead back to five points, but the no-quit Panthers fought back and tied the game at 39 with 11 seconds left in the half after a Crawford layup.
Crawford, Gardner and Warren each had nine points in the first half while Sparkman and junior Tyler Coates led Westwood underneath with a combined 11 of Westwood’s 20 first half rebounds. The Panthers outrebounded Crockett 20-17 in the first half and held Earp to 10 first half points.
“We wanted to keep Cannon out of it early and getting into a rhythm of hitting threes,” Reed said. “We did a good job of that and Tyler and Terrance did a very good job from keeping them from getting second looks.”
Crockett and Westwood traded points for much of the third quarter. But instead of Earp getting on fire, Crawford caught fire in the final minute of the third quarter.
Crawford gave Westwood its first lead after draining a three pointer with 30 seconds left. Warren added another three after a pair of Bulldog free throws on Westwood’s next possession.
After a Westwood steal, Crawford would hit his second three pointer with 20 seconds left in the quarter to give Westwood a seven-point advantage.
Westwood closed out the third quarter outscoring the Bulldogs 9-3 in the final minute.
Westwood continued its hot shooting to open the fourth quarter and went on a 17-7 run in the first half of the quarter. Gardner hit three three-pointers as part of the run.
With Westwood up by 16 points with 4:32 left in the game, Reed called a quick time out to keep his team focused.
“I just wanted to remind them to be aggressive with penetrating to the basket,” Reed said. “Crockett was giving up the three, but since we were in the double bonus I wanted them going to the hole and try and get fouled. I just wanted to them to play smart. ”
After the time out, Crockett went on a 7-2 run and cut Westwood’s lead to 11 points with 2:54 left in the game.
Earp found some of his rhythm and hit a pair of three-point field goals to cap off on a 13-3 run to cut Westwood’s lead to six points with 1:37 left.
Crockett continued to chip away at Westwood’s lead and was down by four with less than a minute to play.
Westwood hit 2-of-6 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory. After the game, Reed said he simply told his team “congratulations”.
“I think it gave us a boat load of confidence to pick up this win,” Reed said. “Younger players have a tendency to start thinking about the Xs and Os than just playing basketball. Tonight the young players played a controlled game, but just went out and played basketball.”
Westwood will hope to take its momentum with them when they travel to play cross-town rival Palestine Friday.
Michael S. Adams may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
By MICHAEL S. ADAMS