by Moses Leos III
Clutch shooting in overtime Tuesday helped the Hays Rebel boys basketball team remain undefeated in 14-6A play. Defeating the Westlake Chaparrals, helmed by former Rebel head basketball coach Robert Lucero, meant just a little more.
Seven points in overtime from sophomore Charles Bohannon lifted Hays to a 69-61 win over Westlake (7-5, 2-1) at Bales Gym.
“We were trying to beat Westlake [and]our old coach,” Bohannon said. “Props to Coach Lucero, [he’s] a great coach. But we were trying to beat Westlake. We needed to pick it up, the intensity level, in our own house and go into the holidays with the win.”
Three Rebels scored in double figures with senior Jerome Scaturro leading the way for 16 points. Bohannon added 15 points, while senior Nate Alvarado scored 13 points. A pari of Chaparrals scored in double figures with Westlake’s Lucas Goldberg leading all scorers with 18 points.
Both teams entered Tuesday with identical 2-0 district records. Hays (8-2, 3-0) now joins Lake Travis as the only teams with unblemished district records in 14-6A.
Increasing intensity forwarded Hays’ success. According to head coach Sam Lunz, maintaining intensity to go along with depth has been a topic of discussion.
“[It’s] making teams play with us for 32 minutes, and not getting bogged down, or lost in the first quarter,” Lunz said.
But consistency from beyond the arc gave Westlake early momentum. Following a scoreless first three-plus minutes, Westlake orchestrated an 11-5 run, capped off by a three-pointer from Luke Pluyman. Pluyman hit two of the team’s four three-pointers in the first quarter.
On the opposite end, Hays’ offense got open looks but struggled to capitalize. Westlake’s defense also slowed down the Rebel offense, limiting points in transition.
Westlake led 16-9 after the first quarter. The Rebels responded with an 11-4 run to start the second frame. A steal and a layup in transition from Alvarado tied the game at 20-20.
But the Chaps countered to take a 30-25 lead at halftime. Westlake maintained momentum into the third quarter, building a 37-30 lead before the Rebels battled back again.
A three-pointer in transition from senior Chris Gonzalez late in the third quarter gave Hays a 46-44 lead heading into the final frame.
Lucero said the Chaps game plan was to limit the Rebels’ transition offense. But missed shots and turnovers from Westlake turned into Rebel opportunities.
“They’ve got some guys that can really shoot it and attack the rim,” he said. “That kind of played to their advantage in the second half.”
Hays expanded its lead to 54-49 before the Chaps made a furiouis fourth quarter rally. The Chaps trailed 59-56 with under :30 seconds left.
Westlake had one final chance to tie and took advantage. Goldberg drilled home a three-pointer at the buzzer to force the extra session.
“We were trying to run something and it got thrown out of whack a little bit,” Lucero said. “We got a shot up and the guys kept crashing (the boards) and [Goldberg] hit a big shot.”
But the Rebels proved too much in overtime, stepping on the gas and outscoring Westlake 10-2 down the stretch.
Helping was a physical rebounding effort. Led by Ian Vassberg, Hays snagged several critical rebounds in crunch time.
“We were going after every single board and hustling as much as we could,” Vassberg said. “We were working our butts off and working hard."
For Lunz and Lucero, who have been friends since their assistant coaching days at Westlake, coaching against one another was “fun.”
With coaches and players ready to play, Lunz believed a competitive game was inevitable.
“You know it was going to be a game no matter what,” he said. “It doesn’t matter the records or anything. it’s a lot of fun to do that and compete.”
Hays will play in the Westlake Classic tournament on Dec. 29-30. The Rebels travel to play at Bowie on Jan. 2.