* Calvert 57, Westlake 34
Calvert senior Ricardo Talley couldn't begin to wipe the smile off his face as he headed toward the Cavaliers' bench with three minutes remaining in their 57-34 blowout of Westlake.
The senior grinned and just shook his head as he made his way down the bench, sure to grab a high five from every player along the way. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Talley then slid in next to senior Terrell Russell and joked, "I know you want to kiss me, right?"
Russell laughed and handed out one last high five in honor of a career-high 24-point, 10-rebound performance by Talley that almost single-handedly did in the Wolverines.
With the Cavaliers' usually sharp-shooting guards struggling from the outside, Talley stayed low and converted 73 percent of his shots from the field. The rest of the Cavaliers (7-3 overall, 2-3 SMAC) combined to shoot 30 percent.
"He's learned how to play hard and use his body to his advantage," Calvert Coach Rick Lagana said. "He's big enough to go get the ball, and he's got soft enough hands to do something with it, and that's what you saw tonight."
Westlake is the league's youngest team, with five sophomores and a freshman on varsity to go with just three seniors. Its youth and inexperience showed. The Wolverines (4-5, 2-2) not only had trouble defending Talley down low, they also failed to get the ball inside when their outside game was not working.
Westlake continued to launch one three-pointer after another against Calvert's man-to-man defense and were just 3-for-14 from behind the arc. The Wolverines shot 28 percent from the field for the game.
"The key word for us is aggressive," Westlake Coach Jimmy Ball said. "We are not a physical team. We're going to have trouble with any team that is aggressive with us. Calvert was scrappy, and they took it to us. Then their shots started falling for them from the outside, too, and that was it.
"Our shots never did fall tonight. But we cannot continue to rely strictly on our outside shot because we are not that good of a shooting team. I know we're going to have to shoot the ball from the outside, but our post players need to get their hands on the ball a certain number of times per game."
Tied at 27 with 1:37 left in the third quarter, Talley got behind Westlake's pressing defense for an uncontested layup, giving the Cavaliers a 29-27 lead. Junior Cartier McKinzie followed with a layup, and Talley closed out the quarter on a 6-0 run with a put-back of a McKinzie miss.
Calvert never looked back, outscoring Westlake 24-7 in the final eight minutes of play.
"Tonight we didn't shoot the ball particularly well, at least not until the fourth quarter," Lagana said. "And we've been shooting the ball much more consistently than that. But Ricardo was working hard to find a way to get to the ball, and that kept us moving. That was what we needed tonight."
And the senior loved every minute of it.
"I hope," Talley said, "I can just keep it rolling like this."