By SALLY SEXTON

H-P Sports Writer



For Westwood head coach David Reed and his team, Friday’s night game against Groesbeck was a must win.

The Panthers (1-2) came through with a 79-62 victory over Groesbeck for their first district win.

“We couldn’t afford another home loss,” Reed said. “I thought of tonight as a must-win situation. We were hoping we’d be on a run these last three games.”

The Panthers had a 7-3 lead in the opening minutes of the game, but Caleb Holbrook sank a three-pointer to get the Goats within one point.

Westwood got the lead right back after Seth Gilkey’s jumper and Gralyn Crawford followed with a three-pointer to make it a 16-11 game with 1:34 left. Gilkey had one of his biggest games of the season, scoring 17 points.

Groesbeck (1-2) hit another shot from behind the arc to get within three at the end of the first quarter.

Groesbeck’s Drasko Novakovic’s 15-footer tied things at 19-19 but D.J. Morrow had his first field goal of the game to give the Panthers back the lead, and Westwood took advantage of back-to-back Groesbeck turnovers to lead 29-23 with 3:36 left before halftime.

But in less than a minute, the Goats tied the game at 29-29 on consecutive three pointers.

Westwood countered to go on a 9-5 run, but Groesbeck ended the half on a three-point play off of a missed free throw to get within two points.

“I thought we played better with the lead than we’ve done all year long,” Reed said. “That was the difference between this game and the Mexia game.”



The Panthers stretched the lead to double digits after Zach Gardner’s three-pointer and Alan Thompson added a layup for the 48-36 score with five minutes left in the third.

The Goats hung around, staying within at least six points, but Crawford had his fifth three-pointer of the game to give Westwood a 60-48 advantage.

Groesbeck started the fourth quarter scoring six straight points to get within four points, but the Panthers came right back to push the lead to seven after Gardner’s free throw.

A technical foul on the Goats gave Westwood four free-throw attempts, and the Panthers were able to make 3-of-4 for a 75-62 game with 1:24 left.

Crawford and Morrow each chipped another free throw to seal up the win.

Crawford had a game-high 28 points, with 17 points off three-pointers.

Westwood will travel to Palestine Tuesday night.

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Sally Sexton can be reached via e-mail at sports2@palestineherald.com



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