Westwood Panthers

Mario Black, who had a pair of 20-point performances during the LCM Paper Classic, was named an all-tournament selection.

The Westwood Panthers open district tonight against the Groesbeck Goats at Groesbeck High School. The Panthers enter district play with an 8-12 record, including a 1-3 stint at Little Cypress Mauriceville Tournament earlier this week.

Mario Black, who had a pair of 20-point performances during the LCM Paper Classic, was named an all-tournament selection.

The Panthers were matched against a pair of Class 4A schools during the tournament and ended their tournament stint pinned against 5A Vidor.

Head coach Jason Morris is confident the speed and athleticism needed to face higher classifications during non-conference will benefit his team moving into district.

Also, not only will the speed of the game begin to settle down, the speed of their schedule will decline as well.

“The style that we play is rough when you're playing two games in one day.” Morris said. “Now get a couple days rest after one game. Our bodies get well adjusted. The kids have bought in. They love the style we play. It's our DNA.”

Dubbed “Presswood,” the Panthers defense applies pressure s pressure to the offensive team the entire length of the court before and after the inbound pass. It's used as a means of attempting to produce turnovers as well as tire opponents.

Contrarily, it's a physically challenging defense to run using an eight-man rotation. Nonetheless, helping establish their defensive presence is JT Herndon. The varsity forward has helped make up for the lack of size the Panthers offer in their front court.

“He may end up with 40 or 50 charges on the year.” Morris said. “He's changing shots in a different way then your traditional rim protector. He does the intangibles that the stat sheet doesn't show.”

On the offensive end, Westwood banks on their ability to fill it up from behind the arc. They splashed home 11 threes against Hargrave and eight against Little Cypress-Mauriceville.

Leading their offensive attack are guards Mario Black and Bri'Darian Hunt. Black was a first-team all-district selection last season, while Hunt was selected to second-team all-district.

Hunt posted a team-high 23 points in their 60-50 loss to LCM Tuesday.

“They're going to take us as we go,” Morris said. “They're scoring 25 points against 4A and 5A schools. I'm interested to see what they can do in district.”

Junior varsity is scheduled for 2 p.m.. Varsity girls will play at 3 p.m. with varsity boys to follow. All games will be played at Groesbeck high school.

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