Westlake varsity basketball grabs rivalry win and bragging rights over Lake Travis

A packed Lake Travis gym saw the Westlake varsity basketball team run away to a 59-44 win over its biggest District rival. The Chaps looked in control for the majority of the game, but it was a 14-1 run in the third quarter that sealed the victory.

“I think we were passing the ball a lot better, and we were getting open shots because of the passing,” starter junior Brock Cunningham said. “We were also playing a lot harder during the run, and we were rebounding the ball and playing good defense.”

Coming into the game, head coach Robert Lucero expected to have to grind out a tough victory on the road which is exactly what happened. Unlike most of Westlake’s games this season, neither team scored more than 60 points, and the Chaps were forced to rely on executing in the halfcourt.

“I thought we were better in transition, but when we had to walk it up, we executed,” Lucero said. “The thing that I was most pleased with was that it seemed like every shot we made tonight came off an assist.”

Brock was once again a key figure in the win, scoring 9 and grabbing a game-high 10 boards. His hustle also seemed to be contagious within his team and led the way for the Chaps gaining extra possessions. Junior Keonte Kennedy also made a big contribution, scoring a team-high 12 points.

Both players made key baskets after Lake Travis closed the gap to just four, 33-29, to stem the momentum and grow the Westlake lead once again. Cavaliers coach Clint Baty noted after the game that it was those key baskets that were the main difference between the two teams.

“We were down eight at halftime and closed it to four, but they just made some key baskets and we didn’t match those,” Baty said. “They shot well from beyond the arc, and we weren’t able to match some of those as well.”

Lucero did point to threes as a big factor in deciding the game.

“When you hit a couple of threes and you get up on Lake Travis, it’s harder for them because they grind it out and control the tempo,” Lucero said. “If you get them down, it makes them play from behind, and it’s hard for any team to play from behind.”

Any hope of home-court advantage was erased at the start of the game as both student sections were packed. They exchanged blows throughout the game, but it was the Westlake side that would end with the final laugh, and Lake Travis fans were silent for most of the fourth.

Both coaches acknowledged the crowd, but also said that the most difficult part about having that sort of atmosphere is making sure the kids don’t lose their heads.

“You always get worried that it’s a tight gym and you worry that walking in, someone might say something,” Lucero said. “You worry about a call going one way or another, and that changing how we play the game. I was pretty pleased with how they handled the environment.”

While happy with the win, Westlake players were quick to downplay the importance of it, saying how it was “just another District game.” It does mean that the Chaps stay undefeated in District play at 3-0 and go to the top of the standings.

“We have to keep practicing hard and keep grinding and keep playing as a team,” guard junior Luke Pluymen said. “It’s really good for us because it shows how well we move the ball and that everyone is contributing.”

The Chaps play Lehman in District next at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 13 at home with JV and freshman playing beforehand.