Varsity basketball bounces back in win against Mount Si (WA)

The rust seemed to have worn off from Thursday morning for Westlake as they dominated Mount Si in the Rancho Mirage Holiday Invitational consolation bracket quarterfinal the same night.

A quick start saw the Chaps go up 12-4 just five minutes into the game, a lead they would stretch to 25-9 at the end of the first quarter.

Mount Si never recovered, and although sophomores Jabe Mullins and Tyler Patterson started hitting three’s, it wasn’t consistent enough to close the gap.

“I just think they got a lot of easy looks,” Mount Si head coach Jason Griffith said. “I felt like we played hard, but at the same time, we were pretty mismatched physically across the board, and they did a good job of exploiting that.”

Westlake won’t have a chance to compete for the tournament championship, but as Griffith noted, the Chaps seemed to play with a chip on their shoulder, eager to prove they’re still a top team in the nation even after the earlier loss to Catalina Foothills.

The team’s emotional leader and captain, Brock Cunningham, was a big reason for the revival. He had a quiet game along with most of his teammates against Foothills but stepped it up for the night game, finishing with 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Defense was another major factor, and after head coach Robert Lucero lamented his team’s perimeter defense against Catalina Foothills, they did a much better job guarding the three-point arc in this game.

Mount Si hit just six three’s, and unlike Foothills, they weren’t able to use those shots to stay in the game.

“We really wanted to make sure and take the three-point line away,” Lucero said. “It wasn’t that we weren’t trying to do it earlier, but we were just a step slow. We did a better job with energy — We were there on the catch, we made guys drive, we made guys take shots over contesting hands, where in the first game, we were just a step slow.”  

The other team captain, senior Luke Pluymen, was visibly frustrated at the end of their game against Catalina Foothills, but also bounced back strong. He scored just two points, but protected the ball much better and ran the offense well.

“It feels good — I feel in this game we all felt the flow,” he said. “In the first game, I was struggling a little bit with taking care of the ball. I hate losing, so it just feels really good to get one back.”  

The Chaps will now face Urspring, a basketball academy in Germany that lost to Trinity (NV) in their first game, but beat Millenium (AZ) in their consolation quarterfinal game. The game will be at 7 p.m. tonight at Cathedral City High School, California.