League Champions. That is a title that has evaded the Westlake Boys Basketball team for years on end. But after a win over Oaks Christian on they are once again atop the throne of Marmonte League Basketball.
A combination of factors have led to the newfound success. While the retention of seniors has certainly helped, the depth of this Westlake roster has certainly been its’ strongest power.
“I think [our biggest strength] is that we have all been playing together for two years now,” said Matthew Bedegian ‘20. “Just getting more time to build chemistry with each other definitely helps. I think the best part is that no one thought we would be here. All the scouts, papers, everyone did not think we would be outright Champions or in the playoffs except us.”
Despite the Naysayers, this team has continued to progress and evolve into a serious contender come playoffs.
They say “you are only as strong as your weakest player”, and this year’s Warriors have certainly proven they are no exception. With a talented albeit young bench and role players, there has been little tail off from the first to second unit, always keeping the pedal to the floor as they marched through their season.
The performance of budding stars such as Will Mazucca ‘19, Jacob Davis ‘19, and Isiah Matute ‘19, have been integral to recapturing the Championship this season
“The younger guys on the team are some of our best players,” said Kyle MacLean ‘20. “Jacob [Davis] was definitely one of the best players on the team before he got injured. I think that since we have all been playing together since last year, they have a lot more experience than typical.”
This constant pressure provided by these players on the opposition is precisely why this team is blowing out schools all over Southern California. Teams simply do not have the size, depth, or talent to keep pace.
“I think the fact that eight of us have been playing together since last year has really helped,” said Isiah Matutue ‘21. “Just the court-time and getting comfortable with each other really makes the difference. We were able to find our identity as a team early on.”
However, looking back through Westlake’s previous teams, there is no question that at various points in time there has been a surplus of talent at their disposal. The knockdown shooting of Adam Hess ‘17, All-time assist leader Bryce Howard, and now the deadly scoring of MacLean.
Despite the trip down memory lane, there are not a lot of banners to show for it. The disconnect of the team starred by Hess, Bynum, and company could not get the job done in crunch time and the Bryce Howard led teams lacked scoring and interior presence ultimately leading to middle of the pack league and playoff finishes. This team does not want to be like teams of the past.
After a 55-52 win against Saint Mary Star of the Sea on Feb. 12, they certainly do not seem to be slowing down now.
“Just one game at a time,” said Coach Kegley. “It is like we started a brand new season. We are 1-0, so we just have to focus on making that 2-0.”