Boys basketball Warriors bash Grimes again

Different months, different venues, but the same basic truth - for the moment, the Westhill boys basketball team has gained clear control over Bishop Grimes, a nice position to be in as the Section III Class B playoffs looms.

By beating the Cobras 66-42 Friday in front of a happy home crowd on Senior Night, the Warriors completed a regular-season sweep, grabbed a piece of the OHSL Liberty division regular-season title and, most likely, secured the top seed for the Class B tournament.

That's a lot to gain in a single night as Westhill had just about everything work - from a quick and efficient offense to a defense that remained its usual ruthless self.

Grimes wanted payback for the Warriors beating them 53-44 in their first encounter on Jan. 8. But that task got a lot taller when the Cobras' starting point guard, Tavon Moore, went out after season-ending surgery on his left thumb, and another guard (Evan Pitonzo) went on a European trip.

Regardless of the personnel, though, Westhill brought the same attitude about defense that delights head coach Kevin King.

"Our kids play hard every day," King said. "And they like to play defense and shut down opponents."

The Warriors began this particular shutdown by holding Grimes without a field goal for the last 5:12 of the first quarter, during which time Westhill went on a 13-1 run.

Even when the Cobras answered with an 11-2 spurt in the second period, the Warriors reclaimed control when Nathan Nigolian and Mike McMullen hit back-to-back 3-pointers. All told, Westhil connected six times beyond the arc on its way to a 32-21 halftime lead.

"They were good looks, and we moved the ball well," King said. "Shooting in your own gym makes a difference."

Westhill stretched the margin to 45-26 in the third quarter, and didn't flinch when Grimes, led again by Mike Stone (who had 24 points), moved back within nine, 49-40, early in the final period.

But the Warriors' defense regrouped and held the Cobras to a single field goal in the last six-plus minutes, allowing all of the six seniors to take a final bow.

McMullen led with 21 points, with Dan Ross punctuating his 12 points with a dunk in the final two minutes and Tom Fisher adding 10 points.

J.T. Alcaro and Dan Karleski (nine points) had solid outings, too, and the loudest cheer of the night came when senior reserve Cory Hewitt, known as "Shaggy" to Westhill's student section, banked in a 3-pointer before time ran out.

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