Westlake basketball beats Lanier

It was Westlake’s night Nov. 14 in a non-District game against Lanier. After losing a tough contest against McNeil just three days prior, the boys varsity team was glad to get off the mark at home with a 93-68 win.

Westlake head coach Robert Lucero and his players acknowledged that this was not one of their best defensive nights, but putting up 93 points was a welcome sight after struggling to score in their first match.

“You can’t make all your shots all the time, but it helped to play at home and get that rhythm back,” junior Brock Cunningham said.

The game started off with a fast pace, with the two teams combining for 34 points in the first quarter alone. Westlake turnovers kept Lanier in the game for the first few minutes, but Westlake’s size and skill advantage soon became apparent.

Big men senior Alex Neahusan and Brock both grabbed multiple offensive rebounds allowing Westlake’s offense to get numerous chances every trip down the floor.

Lanier’s star player and No. 69 in the Texas Top 100 2018 class rankings junior Davion Buster struggled to hit his shot early in the game which also added to Lanier’s woes. He would not score in the first quarter and finally got his first points two minutes into the second.

“My team kept me going, kept me positive,” Davion said. “They told me to keep shooting because I was getting a bit down at first. I have wonderful teammates and thank God I had them.”

Davion would catch fire late in the third and throughout the fourth to score a game-high 28 points, but it would not be enough to pull the Vikings back into the game. He talked after the game about some of the improvements that the Vikings need to make.

“We need to get tougher, and we need to scrimmage more,” Davion said. “We don’t know each other that well because this is our first year together. We lost a couple of key players, so we’re just trying to build a whole new team.”

The second half of the game belonged to Chaps 6’9” sophomore Will Baker. He ended the game with a team-high 23 points and was a big part of how the Chaps stretched out the lead in the third quarter and beginning of the fourth quarter.

“I was open a couple of times and I got some good looks,” Baker said after the game. “Part of our strategy was to work the ball inside, but coach didn’t specifically say anything about the size advantage.”

Both teams ran a high pressing scheme for much of the game. Westlake’s press was based on forcing the ball out of Davion’s hands, whereas Lanier has shown thus far this season that they like to press whatever opponent they face.

Lucero explained that with Lanier only having one main ball carrier, they wanted to force other players to bring the ball up the floor. He was happy with the press overall, but noted that there were times when it lapsed and the ball found its way back to Davion.

Lucero also had a similar response to how his team dealt with the press. The first quarter saw some easy buckets for the Chaps due to Lanier players getting caught too far up the floor and unable to defend the outlet passes past half-court. However, Lucero pointed out there were times when the ball movement lacked crispness, and there were “unforced errors” in bringing up the ball. He also talked about how many quick shots his team took.

“When you play a team that traps, and all of a sudden you’re open and you’re not used to playing when there’s no one guarding you, you think that you just need to shoot it,” Lucero said. “But that’s also a time when we can put a lot of pressure on the basket.”

Late in the game, the Chaps would look to their bench to close it out. With a deep pool of players to choose from, Lucero is more spoiled than a lot of other coaches when it comes to the bench. While these early games might not see the need for depth, later in the season, strong performances down the order could make all the difference.

“Everybody comes to practice every day and works really hard, so they deserve the opportunity to get to play also,” Lucero said. “Last year, when we got into injury trouble or foul trouble, we were able to have guys that were prepared to play. They don’t know exactly when their chance is going to come, but if they practice hard every day and we give them some minutes in a game like this, they’re more prepared if they do need to play.”