Panthers Defeat Cougars in Title Game, 58-46
By Will Johnson
CROCKETT – The Westwood Panthers defeated the China Spring Cougars on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 30, to lay claim to the 2017 Houston County Holiday Championship.
Coming out of pool play, however, the Panthers were just lucky to advance. All the teams in Pool C suffered a loss in the early stages of the tournament and Westwood only advanced to the Championship Bracket thanks to a greater point differential.
Once they hit bracket play, the Panthers knew what to do however, as the #5 ranked team in Class 3A took care of business with a 49-41 win over Palestine in the semifinals and a 58-46 win over China Spring in the finals.
As the game got underway, the two teams seemed to be trying to gauge each other and by the end of the quarter the score reflected it as the contest was tied at 14. The Cougars were led by Landan Hensley with six, Antwan Stephens with five and T. James with three.
The Panthers were paced by D’Michael Bellfield with eight points while both Kollin Simon and Jaren Turner hit from behind the arc.
The second quarter was more of the same as the two teams battled it out but remained tied at 31 when the horn sounded at halftime. Hensley had 10 for China Spring while James had four and Eli Stephens had three.
Westwood was led by Turner who knocked down a pair of three-pointers in the second quarter. Bellfield and Tatum had four apiece while Simon added three to close out the first half scoring.
After intermission, the game changed drastically as the Cougars went ice cold in the third quarter. Stephens was the only China Spring player to score and he had five.
Meanwhile, the Panthers defense allowed them to open up an 11 point lead. Bellfield scored nine in the quarter, Turner had five and Simon scored two as Westwood led 47-36 after three.
With eight minutes left to play in regulation, the Panthers slowed the tempo on offense but still kept the pressure up on the defensive end of the court. Robert Gupton came on for the Cougars and dropped in five while Landan hit his fifth three-pointer of the game while Michael Kettler had two.
Westwood’s Turner upped Landan by one as he nailed his fifth and sixth three-pointers of the game in the fourth quarter. Roderick Cook chipped in four and Bellfield had one.
For the game, the Panthers were led by D’Micheal Bellfield with 22 points and Jaren Turner with 20. Kollin Simon and Jailyn Tatum both had six while Roderick Cook added four.
The Cougars were led by Landan Hensley with 19 points. Eli Stephens dropped in eight, T. James had seven, and both Robert Gupton and Antwan Stephens scored five while Michael Kettler added two.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.