The 1999-2000 season didn't start according to plan for Westlake High School's boys basketball team Tuesday night. The Wolverines went from leading Crossland by three points at halftime to losing by the largest margin in school history, 87-52, in Temple Hills.
Westlake, last year's Southern Maryland Athletic Conference champion, struggled with Crossland's pressure defense and committed 39 turnovers. By comparison, Crossland (1-0) turned the ball over 15 times.
"This is the most embarrassed I've ever been," said Westlake Coach Jimmy Ball, whose team's worst previous loss also came against Crossland, a 30-point blowout four years ago. "I feel the team is a reflection of its coach, and there's no way people sitting in the stands watching this could have any idea how hard we've worked in practice on beating the press."
Westlake had rallied from an early deficit to take a 31-28 lead at halftime, but Crossland took over by scoring 33 third-quarter points. Cavaliers forward Curtis Bunn scored 10 of his 17 points in the quarter.
It got worse for the Wolverines in the fourth quarter, when Crossland outscored them, 26-3. Crossland guard Rodney Cobb--the only Cavalier besides Bunn who had significant varsity playing experience coming into the game--made 8 of 17 shots and finished with a game-high 20 points.
"We threw the first punch, they threw the second and that shocked us a little bit," Crossland Coach Levi Franklin said. "We had to get back to what we do best, which is run. I thought if we kept putting pressure on them, we could tire them and force them into turnovers . . . and that's exactly what happened."
Trailing 16-12 at the end of the first quarter, Westlake seemed to get a handle on Crossland's full-court press in the second. The Wolverines moved the ball more effectively on the perimeter and found Denzel Satterwhite and Randy Starks open underneath the basket on consecutive possessions to tie the score at 16. Starks (team-high 17 points) gave the Wolverines the lead with 4 minutes 8 seconds to play in the half on a powerful move from just inside the foul line.
The Wolverines simply could not keep it up.
"I know our guards are young, but if we are going to have success this year, it's going to have to be because of them," Ball said. "Randy looked great, but he needs help. They need to handle the pressure. They can't come out and use 'We're young' as an excuse. They have to find a way to better themselves, and I think they will."
Said Starks: "This hurts a lot. It makes me want to come back Friday [against Riverdale Baptist] and redeem ourselves, because I know everyone in the SMAC is going to look at this loss and think we aren't as good as last year. We need to make a statement Friday."
Westlake (0-1)--Briscoe 2 0-0 4, Jones 0 0-2 0, Brown 2 1-4 5, Dickson 2 2-2 6, Starks 7 3-4 17, Bonnett 5 0-1 10, Satterwhite 1 1-2 3, Chisley 3 0-0 6, Cornwell 0 0-2 0, Baker 0 1-2 1. Totals 22 8-19 52.
Crossland (1-0)--Cobb 8 4-7 20, Lomax 3 0-0 7, Bunn 6 4-4 17, Jackson 2 0-0 4, Thomas 3 4-5 11, Hampton 2 0-0 4, Franklin 2 3-4 7, Haskins 1 0-0 2, Payton 1 0-0 2, Coates 1 0-0 2, Green 2 5-9 9, Edwards 0 2-2 2. Totals 31 22-31 87.
Halftime: Westlake, 31-28.
Three-point goals: Crossland 3 (Lomax, Bunn, Thomas).
CAPTION: Westlake's Randy Starks drives through Crossland defenders William Green, right, and Curtis Bunn for a layup during the second period Tuesday night. The Wolverines led by three at the half.
CAPTION: Crossland's Marco Lomax, right, blocks a layup attempt by Westlake's Tim Bonnett during the first period. After rallying briefly from an early deficit, the Wolverines committed 39 turnovers.