Weary winners: Rams hold off Tors in third game in as many days
Published 1:44 pm Thursday, December 23, 2021
SULPHUR — The Westlake Rams saw most of a 13-point lead wither away in the second half but held on to beat Sulphur 53-47 Wednesday.
“We just played hard,” Westlake head coach Doug Morris said. “That is our (modus operandi).
“If we play hard we normally play well. Our defense was pretty good except for that stretch that we gave up a couple of backdoor lobs to a layup. (The Tors) played hard. They are a good team. They are fundamentally strong, so you better come with it when you play Sulphur.”
Behind a combined 36 points from seniors Jamaal Guillory (16) and Tyler Joseph (20), Westlake (11-1) won its 11th consecutive game since a season-opening loss to Elton. Center Jaylon Howell came off the bench to score eight points and grab six rebounds.
“It is good for us right now,” Morris said. “We are 11-1 going into our little holiday break. Hopefully, we can continue after this.”
Westlake normally feeds off a full-court press but showed signs of fatigue early playing its third game in as many days. Forced to play more in the paint despite the Tors’ size advantage, the Rams never trailed.
“When we pressed in the first quarter, I saw that we were tired,” Morris said. “We had to go half-court on them.”
The Tors struggled early in the second half and fell behind 38-25 on a bucket in the lane by Joseph, so the Tors went to their forwards Dawson Ortego and Kohl Navarre. Ortego finished with 12 points, and Navarre had 11, including seven in the fourth quarter. Guard Alijah Coleman added 11 points.
“Our coaches had seen some things in the first half and we made a few adjustments at halftime, trying to take advantage of moving at the rim and get our power forwards touches,” Sulphur head coach Adam Coleman said. “Kohl Navarre and Dawson Ortego did a good job of attacking the glass.
“It opened up some things for us. We came into the second half with a different mentality.”
Navarre was fouled in the lane with 4:26 left and pulled the Tors within 42-40 after making a pair of free throws to cap a 13-4 run.
Twice the Tors got within two points in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the game on a 3-pointer by Landon Trahan and Ortego’s bucket after a high lob pass above the rim by Felipe Michelini. But the Tors turned the ball over twice in the final 40 seconds, and Guillory went 4-for-5 from the free-throw line.