AUSTN WESTLAKE ADVANCES TO STATE FINAL
This year was a little different due to pandemic. Instead of the final 4 teams in each division playing in the Alamodome; this year the semifinals were hosted at neutral sites. Region 3 Champ Atascocita came in ranked #12 in the state; Region 4 Champ Austin Westlake came in ranked #5. A spot in the State finals up for grabs. Both teams had been battle tested throughout the playoffs so the tough match up was highly anticipated. Both teams with strong senior classes with some quality playoff experience under their belt. KJ Adams, Westlake HS (#10 in the latest Texasboysbasketball.com rankings) has been as advertised in the post season, but there are more solid contributors such as Eain Mowat and Cade Mankle. Atascocita has a solid group of seniors themselves in Tom Hart III, Cam Morrison, Kaleb Stewart (#35 in the latest rankings) and others. They come in after surviving a close call a few days before vs Summer Creek. With multiple college prospects on the floor this was a good one to see
In the beginning it was ’21 Eain Mowat who got off to a hot start. He knocked down a deep one in front of Atascocita’s bench and gave them a stare as if to say he was ready to play. This set the tone for Westlake as the spread it around to others to keep the floor spread. Along with Mowat was’21 Cade Mankle and Blake Nielsen who had some early contributions. This also helped Adams who showcased his versatile skill set. KJ on numerous occasions showed solid decision making and found open guys when he wasn’t in attack mode himself. For Atascocita it was Cam Morrison who helped settle them down after an early Westlake run. Cam showed ability to finish at the rim and also hit mi range shots. At the end of 1 due to Morrison’s efforts it was tied at 14.
In the 2nd Adams got going. He was able to attack through multiple defenders and finish at the rim and also got to the foul line some. While he was causing problems inside Mowat was still solid on the perimeter. If he wasn’t knocking down shots; he was controlling tempo and handling solid on ball pressure; very key as the game went along. Not to be out done was ’21 Christian Ashby for Atascocita. He got into a nice rhythm and hit a couple from deep showing a good clean, quick release. Along with Ashby (12 pts) was Tom Hart III(16 pts.). He had a strong game showing ability to get by defenders and hit mid -range shots. With these 2 efforts; it kept them close at the half. For Westlake another unsung hero was ‘ 22 Preston Clark. He was instrumental in controlling the glass and clogging the lane up for the Chaps. His efforts were key when Adams picked up his 2nd foul. Depsite the foul trouble the still lead at the half.
Both teams came out with a strong on both ends in the 3rd qtr. Atascocita ramped up its defensive pressure to help go on a couple runs. During those runs Hart was real good making play after play. Hart also had the responsibility of hounding Mowat and on a couple of possessions Adams. To help Hart Ashby continued his hot hand as he hit a couple more from deep. This time to get the Chaps lead down to 5. Each time Atascocita would make a run, Mowat and Adams would make a play. Adams was physical and it showed on a couple of plays where he finished through contact and got and 1 opportunties. Commanding extra attention also played a factor in Preston Clark and ’22 Nehkhare Idiehon making plays on the interior as well.
In the 4th Westlake came out with intentions on blowing the game open with a 3 by Clark and Adams ( game high 21pts) doing damage but Atascocita wouldn’t go away. They were able to get some easy buckets and turn some long rebounds and turnovers into points. But as they got closer and the intensity turned up Mowat answered the bell. Mainly from a facilitator stand point and handling the pressure. His savvy and IQ putting guys in the right spots and delivering solid passes were the difference as he found Clark and Adams late to seal the deal. In the end Westlake’s size and ability to handle the pressure was the difference. Austin Westlake 57 ATASCOCITA 44