Down early and without their head coach, Westlake completed a full turnaround from the first quarter to take a 56-53 win over visiting Lake Travis Tuesday night, using a 24-0 run in the second quarter to take control in the first half.
Assistant coach Robert Lucero led the team to the comeback victory in his first stint ever as the head man, filling in for coach Tres Ellis, who was out ill.
“I was really proud of the way the guys recovered,” said Lucero, who has a perfect (1-0) record as a head coach now. “They got down and defended and rebounded the ball, then that allowed us to get in transition … I told the guys I’m going to retire now.”
Methodically, Lake Travis (19-8, 5-2 District 15-5A) worked its way back into the game and had a chance at the win with the game tied 55-55 in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, but a Jordan Manse 3-pointer missed at the buzzer. Again in overtime the Cavs had a chance with the ball and trailing by three, but a 3 from Manse fell short and a follow up try by Jake Budde missed as well.
Chris Murch was huge off the bench for the Chaparrals (14-12, 3-4), hitting for 10 points in the second quarter and finishing with 15 overall. Will Morse led Westlake with 23 points, including two huge 3-pointers to start overtime to put the Chaps up six.
“[It was] the coaches having faith in me and having more confidence in myself,” Murch said of his stretch of strong play off the bench. “When we started getting more wins I was playing more and it felt good. They had faith in me, and I wanted to keep it up. [After the first quarter] coach Lucero explained the defense we were gong to run, and we ran it to perfection, honestly.”
Lake Travis took the first meeting 51-49, and both sides had a feeling it would come down to the end once again
“We know getting a win is huge and almost a necessity for our chances of making the playoffs,” Morse said. “[Murch] was huge. We really struggled in the first quarter scoring and he was a spark. They really played me and Chase [Carlton] tight; he made some shots and loosened things up.”
Luke Hutton led the Cavs with 19 points, and Manse had 14 of his 16 points after halftime. Stefan Vidovic scored all seven of his points in the third and Henry Castner added five points.
Lake Travis got off to a quick start as Hutton scored seven of the team’s first eight points, and the Cavs took a 10-2 lead en route to a 10-4 edge at the end of one.
That’s when things took a complete turnaround.
Westlake grabbed the momentum and lea just a minute-and-a-half into the second, going up 12-10 on a 3-pointer from Murch. By the time the Cavs scored again, more than eight minutes had ticked off spanning the first and second quarters, and Westlake was ahead 26-11 with 1:32 left before halftime.
It was 28-13 Chaps at the break.
“We had to focus on the game plan – how we want to attack them how we want to slow them down,” Lucero said. “We can’t get all fired up bc we’re playing Lake Travis. We should be playing hard as hard as you can all the time. Coach here or not here, we want the guys to play as hard as they can and play the same.”
In the third, Lake Travis pulled within eight twice and closed the quarter with a 3-pointer by Manse and a layup by Vidovic to make it 40-35 heading to the fourth. The duo combined for 15 points in the third frame.
Westlake stretched the lead to 44-35 as Lake Travis went cold again, but the Cavs continued to plug away. Hutton scored on a drive, then hit 1-of-2 at the line and capped the stretch with a three-point play, making an acrobatic over the shoulder layup plus the free throw to make it 44-43 with 1:57 to play.
Following a Westlake miss, Manse drove the lane for a jumper and suddenly Lake Travis had its first lead since the first quarter, 45-44 with 58 seconds left.
Morse was fouled on a jumper but the normally sure-fire shooter made just 1-of-2 at the line to tie it 45-45. The Cavs drained the last 40-plus seconds before Manse missed on his trey try.
Morse hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put Westlake up 51-45, but two free throws by Sean Steffen with 54 seconds left brought it back to a two-point game, 53-51.
“We let up the lead a little bit but we were confident going in [to overtime],” Murch said. “Will hit two clutch shots at the beginning.”
The Cavs tried to press Westlake, but the Chaps broke through and Jackson Carter put in a layup to make it a four-point lead again.
On the next possession, Manse drove hard to the rim and was fouled. He made both to make it 55-53 and Morse again hit just 1-of-2 on the other end, giving Lake Travis one last shot at it.
Westlake played the perimeter well and forced a long try from Manse and a rushed follow by Budde, giving the Chaps the overtime win.
Ellis told Lucero the day before that he was not feeling well, and on game day he put the team in Lucero’s hands.
“He must be really feeling bad to not make it,” Lucero said.
The Chaps didn’t find out Ellis would be missing until a few hours before tipoff.
“Coach Lucero does a great job for us,” Morse said. “We miss coach Ellis but he did a great job.”
Murch added, “Coach Lucero is a great coach. He helps us a lot in practice and in games, so we knew we were in good hands.”
Westlake is now in a three-way tie for fourth place with Austin High and Akins at 3-4.
“We needed that win,” Lucero said.
Team Dist. W-L Overall W-L
Anderson 6 1 23 4
Lake Travis 5 2 19 8
Del Valle 3 3 13 12
Austin High 3 4 18 8
Akins 3 4 18 8
Westlake 3 4 14 12
Bowie 1 6 14 10
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