Columbia Central High School basketball player Sam Lyke takes the ball to the hoop as Western High School player Ryan Cottingham guards on the play. Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports.
By Jeff Steers
If Wilbur “Shooter” Flatch from the movie “Hoosiers” was describing the Western High School boys’ varsity basketball team this season, he may mention that they didn’t have any tree toppers, but were scrappy, and could chuck it from the cheap seats.
Columbia Central High School found out the hard way.
The Panthers created more than two dozen turnovers in a 68-27 win at home on Tuesday to start the season.
Junior Trey Cottingham finished with 26 points and six steals for Western (1-0).
“Our energy level was good tonight,” Cottingham said. “We are small, but we have a lot of heart and intensity.”
Western had the opportunity to play the entire bench because of the score. The Panthers went hard until the last whistle of the contest.
“We have to speed up the game and take advantage of the other team’s guard play,” Coach Ryan Mulnix said. “We aren’t very big, but we are asking our 6-foot, 2-inch guys to play 6-5 or 6-6.”
Western was impressive from the opening quarter, outscoring the Golden Eagles 11-1 to start the contest. Cottingham scored five points in the first eight minutes of action as Western took a 13-3 lead.
The Western junior scored nine points in the second quarter as the Panthers took a 27-12 lead into halftime.
Western outscored CCHS 21-11 in the third quarter as Cottingham scored nine more points. CCHS showed signs of life in the quarter as five players scored for the Golden Eagles.
Seven players scored for WHS in the fourth quarter as junior Gavin Price scored six points for the Panthers.
Five players scored at least six points apiece for Western in the contest. Price, Caleb Griffith, and Brett Casto scored seven points apiece and Logan Baum and Landon French each scored six points for the Panthers.
Price led the team with 11 rebounds and French and Zach Nichols added four steals apiece for Western.
CCHS was led by Sam Lyke and Nico Hyliard with six points apiece. Caleb Shay added 10 rebounds and Aiden Adams dished four assists for CCHS (0-1).
“We didn’t move the ball well … I take blame for that,” CCHS Coach Troy Stewart said. “We showed some inexperience on all of our parts … we will get better.”
Western will host crosstown rivals Northwest on Friday in a girl/boy varsity doubleheader. CCHS travels to Concord on Monday for a 7 p.m. tipoff.