Westwood boys start 7-0 in district before first stumble Tuesday

Jan. 24—MEXIA — After starting off district schedule with a perfect 7-0, the Westwood Panther had its first stumble Tuesday night against the Black Cats of Mexia.

The Panthers, who began the season unranked, have quickly become one of the toughest 3A teams in the state, and currently hold the 12th position in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll. In its seven previous district wins, Westwood outscored opponents by an average of 80-51, including a three-game stretch of wins over Buffalo, Elkhart and Groesbeck where the Panthers would score a combined 253 points while only allowing 85, winning all three contests by more than 50 points.

But, all good things must come to an end.

The Panthers district winning streak would come to a close in Mexia Tuesday, as the Black Cats defended their home court, nicknamed "The Dungeon," with a 98-70 win in front of a packed house.

Basketball fans were treated to an incredible first quarter of basketball, with both teams hitting on all cylinders right from the jump. Panther freshman phenom Kavian Bryant took charge early, hitting multiple step back three's from well behind the arc. The Black Cats would not be deterred, matching every Panther bucket with one of their own, with the crowd exploding with applause for each Mexia point.

The Panther offense began to cool in the second quarter, beginning an uphill battle for Westwood for the remainder of the night, as the middle periods were not kind to the Panthers. Mexia used a blend of tough defense and lightning fast offense to outscore the Panthers 62-27 combined in the second and third quarters, taking an 85-48 lead into the final 10 minutes of play.

While it may have been a little too late, the Panthers buckled down and played a much better final quarter, outscoring Mexia 22-14 in the period, cementing a 98-70 final for the Black Cats.

Bryant once again led in scoring for the Panthers, going 10-25 from the field for 26 points. Sophomore point guard Chris Carter shot the ball well from the three-point arc in the loss, going 4-9 from deep, scoring 14 in the process. On a positive note, every Panther would score in the contest, with the last Panther to score, Myron Melton, making a layup as time expired.

This was the second of two meetings for the district rivals this year, with Westwood winning the previous affair 79-72.

The loss will not affect either team's positioning within the 20-3A district rankings, with Westwood remaining atop the district with a 7-1 record, while Mexia currently occupies the third spot, with a 6-2 district record. Franklin and Teague currently hold the second and fourth positions, respectively.

The Lady Panthers also had a tough night in Mexia, falling in their contest 41-9.

While the score may not show, the Lady Panthers played a tough game, holding the LadyCats to just 18-60 from the field. But offensively, Westwood could never get into a rhythm, making just one shot from the field in the contest, scoring majority of their points by going 7-14 from the free throw line.

Both the Panthers and Lady Panthers will look to remove the bitter taste of Tuesday's loss when they host the Buffalo Bisons and Lady Bisons this Friday. The Lady Panthers will tip at 6:15 p.m., with the boys to follow at 7:30 p.m., this Friday, Jan 26, at the Westwood gym.