PALESTINE – Westwood Panthers head coach Chris Cole secured his first career district win Tuesday following their 56-50 victory against the Groesbeck Goats.
“I was needing it, I was ready to get it,” Cole said. “We've been talking about being able to close games for a while now. Five of our losses have been by five points or less. And that comes down to defense and rebounding. We did that tonight better than we've had all season long. I hope this is turning over a new leaf.”
The Panthers closed the third quarter sporting a six-point lead. Aaron Johnson had at that point to lead all scorers due to his ability to attack the rim and create second-chance opportunities on the offensive glass.
Similarly, Devonte Downie made a living inside the paint as he finished with 18 points on the night.
“They're special athletes,” Cole said. “Depending on the matchup we talk about where we need to get them to score. When they're locked in and finishing at the rim we can beat anybody.”
The Panthers were able to extend their lead down the stretch before a 6-0 Groesbeck run closed the gap to 52-48 with under a minute left in the game.
Cole was forced to burn a timeout to offset the Goats momentum. The Panthers inbounded the ball on the sideline with the Goat defense barrling down the backs of the Westwood players.
Brody McLelland swung the ball to Downie who beat his man down the court for a layup. Westwood led 54-48 with 25 seconds left until Groesbeck responded with a bucket of their own.
With the clock against them, the Goats were forced to foul Johnson who iced the game with a pair of makes at the free throw line.
“They deserve this,” Cole said. “When I got hear I preached we have all the guys we need to win. We just have to do the small things right. Win the day.”
“Wake up in the morning – make your bed. We feed them – clean up after yourself. Don't get to practice on time everyone in the world does that. Get to practice early. It's the little things. If we keep focusing on those the sky is the limit for us.”
Westwood hosts the Buffalo Bison Friday night.