THE FEATHERDUSTER

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Varsity basketball survives Lake Travis, draws closer to clinching District

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Up by just three points and the crowd the loudest it’s been all night, senior Matthew Mayer stepped up to the foul line with 14 seconds left and a chance to ice the game.

“I was honestly just praying that I was going to make those free throws,” he said after the game.

Matthew sunk both of them, and after senior Luke Hamilton missed a three for Lake Travis at the other end, the Cavaliers were left with the almost impossible task of making up five points in the span of four seconds.

Matthew would get the final steal of the game on an errant inbounds pass by Lake Travis senior Ryan Bormann, and the Chaps closed out their tightest victory in District, 70-65.

“We beat them in football, and everyone wanted us to beat them in basketball too, so it feels great,” Matthew said.

Dual-sport junior Garrett Wilson, who also plays football, did all he could to keep Lake Travis in the game. Just moments before Matthew’s free throws, he hit a pair of deep three’s to make it a one-possession game.

He went 10-17 from the field in the game for 25 points and six rebounds to go with four assists.

“We were just trying to win the game,” Garrett said. “We did whatever it took to win, but we came up short. I was just trying to do whatever it took to get my team back in the game.”

It was the middle two quarters that turned out to be the difference between the two teams. Lake Travis would go up by as much as seven in the first quarter, but Westlake turned it on before the halftime break, scoring 21 points, to go into the locker room with a four-point lead.

Senior Brock Cunningham and senior Keonte Kennedy combined for 12 points in the third quarter to extend that lead to eight points up going into the final frame.

With a six-point lead and the ball with just under 30 seconds left in the game, Brock and Keonte ran an inbounds play they’ve executed numerous times this season.

Keonte sold his defender on a cut towards his own baseline and made a beeline down the court to Lake Travis’ basket. What should have ended in a dunk was stopped by a pass slightly too long by Brock, and it gave Lake Travis their final sliver of hope.

“It was a good pass — they do it all the time,” Westlake head coach Robert Lucero said. “Here at Lake Travis, it’s a little bit shorter of a court — about ten feet shorter — so if we were at home, it’s probably a dunk or a foul, but we’re here. When we were leaving the timeout, I should have told Brock that it’s a little short, and it just slipped my mind.”

Both sides packed the stands to watch the thrilling contest, and both players and coaches noted the “playoff-like atmosphere” that was created.

Lucero also said the game was important going into the postseason because of the challenges Lake Travis posed with a scoring guard in Garrett and talented big man in DJ Thorpe.

“It’s good for us to have games like this,” he said. “The atmosphere is like a playoff game; the gym’s packed; you want to show up for your friends and family; it’s the last time the guys get to play at Lake Travis; they have bigs; they have shooters; they have a point guard that can really play; they have Garrett Wilson. So to be able to come in here and get a win was really good for us.”

With the win, Westlake moves to 9-0 in District play and all but locks up their third consecutive District title. Lake Travis sits at 6-2 in District and will have to win their four remaining games as well as hope Westlake loses all three of its remaining games in order to steal the District championship.

Westlake can clinch at least a shared title with a win against Lehman Feb. 6 and an out-right title with a win against Leander away Feb. 9.

“Lucero won’t let the level of play drop, and it’s really good to have a coach who stays on you the entire time and doesn’t get lackadaisical,” Brock said.

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Varsity basketball survives Lake Travis, draws closer to clinching District