Boys’ basketball handles Bowie on senior night

Upperclassman guide Chaps to 52-45 win over Bulldogs Friday
Mia Fillpot
Forward junior Jack Seiders dribbles on a fast break in the first quarter of the Chaps’ win Friday. Seiders had eight points in the contest.

With just under five minutes to play, forward senior Wonder Kahozi skied up and rejected a Bowie shot attempt. The Chaps raced out in transition after scooping up the loose ball. Guard senior Donovan Lee finished the play with an easy fast-break layup. 

Just as the Chaps had leaned on their upperclassmen all night, they continued to rely on them, once again turning their direction in crunch time to secure the win.

“I think it was really important on senior night, with it being the last time a lot of these guys are going to play here, you want to get as many of them in there as you can,” head coach Robert Lucero said. “Everybody that practices drives the team, and they have helped make us so much better over the past few years.”

The effort of the two seniors on both ends of the floor helped extend the Chaparral lead to eight points. Soon after, the Chaps dribbled out the clock and secured an important district win on senior night. The Chaps’ veterans poured in crucial performances on offense and defense, with the emotion and effort reciprocated by their supporters in the stands. 

“It was a great atmosphere,” Kahozi said. “It was great to see everybody come out, all the parents, all of our friends come out and support us for one last time at Al Bennett.”

The Chaps (24-7, 12-2 District 26-6A) took down Bowie (21-9, 8-5 26-6A), 52-45, Friday night on Al Bennett Court. Five of their six top-scorers were seniors, led by Kahozi with 23 points. The Chaps defensive effort was key as well, as a slow-paced game made each possession important.

The Chaps jumped on the Bulldogs early, as two steals on the defensive end and a fastbreak dunk by forward junior Jack Seiders led to a quick 6-0 Westlake lead. Despite the home crowd coming alive early, Bowie battled back into the game with a 5-0 run of their own. Forward senior Andrew Cannatti got the Chaps back on track with a 3-pointer as the quarter closed, and they led 11-7 at the end of the first. 

Guard senior Max Purushothaman defends a Bowie attack in the Chaps win Friday. Purushothaman was one of five Westlake seniors to score on senior night.

Frustration began to boil over early in the second quarter, and the student sections exchanged words along with the players. Guard senior Gavin Paull was called for a clear path foul, and the Bulldogs knocked down two free throws and scored on the ensuing possession.  A series of free throws slowed the game down, and Bowie took advantage, tying the game up at 15 midway through the quarter. 

With both teams in foul trouble, Kahozi began to take over, hitting a lead-taking and-one to give the Chaps a 25-22 lead at the half. 

“We continued to get better at walking it up, because I think that’s the nature of how we end up playing,” Lucero said. “We had some good big-to-big passing, and that opened up some room on the perimeter. I think being more balanced on where we’re scoring from is the most important thing.”

Kahozi led the charge coming out of the break, scoring the first two of his nine third quarter points to stretch the Chaps’ lead to five points. After going back and forth with the Bulldogs for a majority of the quarter, Kahozi answered a Bowie basket yet again, giving the Chaps a seven point lead. They kept the pressure on the Bulldogs and took a 38-33 lead into the fourth quarter. 

A quick 4-0 run to open the period gave the Chaps a nine point lead, allowing them to hold the ball for nearly two minutes. After Bowie began to foul, Lee and Paull tacked on four consecutive free throws to ice the game. 

“Leading up to this game, we knew what we needed to fix,” Kahozi said. “We knew that there were certain things that were limiting us, but we made sure to address them.”

The win helps the Chaps move into second place in district, sitting a half-game behind Lake Travis. The Chaps continue their chase for their ninth consecutive district title in a marquee road matchup against the third place Johnson Jaguars Tuesday at 7 p.m. 

“I’m feeling really good about this team,” Kahozi said. “We’re taking it day by day, game by game and pushing each other every day in practice. We’re getting better every day.”

Forward senior Wonder Kahozi battles for the tip-off in the first quarter of the Chaps’ win Friday. Kahozi led the team with 23 points
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