By Stefanie Kilnapp
The Westlake boys varsity basketball team competed in the last game to ever be played on the old gym floor on Saturday night – the new Westlake High School is currently being constructed – and were defeated by Lorain, 66-56.
Emotions were surprisingly not high with the Demons, as the boys seemed unfazed with the prospect of never dribbling another basketball on this floor during a league game.
“I grew up playing in this gym since third grade, so it’s kind of sad that it’s the last game,” senior guard Shawn Turk recollected. “But I’m glad it was our last game here instead of somebody else’s. It’s been fun; we won a lot of games here.”
“We’ve played a lot of games here – since I was a little kid – so it was sad to finish out on a loss especially,” Westlake junior Makis Beach said. “We wanted to end on a high note.
“We have to come out strong (in the new gym next year); start getting wins,” he added.
“I don’t think they really thought about this,” assistant coach Dave Fazekas admitted. “If this was the last game of their career it would’ve been a little different. I don’t think it’ll really hit them until their season’s over.”
Fazekas has been the assistant coach for the Westlake varsity boys team for two years now, but has been coaching for many years at younger levels. He has coached seniors Bryan Mackenzie, Turk, Jamie Lackner, Danny Strodtbeck and Brian Guzik since the third grade.
“Coaching them in their last two years is really special,” he said.
Senior Danny Strodtbeck embraced being coached the last couple games during the regular season with “Coach Zeke”.
“It feels great to be the last team to play on this floor,” he said. “It was nice to end with Coach Zeke just like old times, coaching us all over again.”
The Demons were missing not only their head coach the last two games, but also junior post player Gavin Skelly, due to Ohio High School Athletic Association violations.
According to OHSAA rules, a player cannot play in another organized league and Skelly recently played in a CYO game, so according to those rules, he and head coach Shawn Hood had to sit out for two games.
“Gavin being out was a big distraction,” Fazekas said.
In Fazekas’ opinion, the team was so tired from playing Brecksville the previous night, they couldn’t bring themselves to win one last home game.
“We were down three (points) at one point in the fourth quarter, and we let it slip away,” he said. “We got to remember to close games, and if we do that, we can be successful.”
The Friday night matchup against Brecksville was lost in overtime, 66-63.
“I can tell you that they left everything on the floor last night against Brecksville,” Fazekas said. “They didn’t take this game lightly by any means but all their emotion and energy was left last night.”
Regardless of the last loss here at Westlake, the team plans on a winning postseason and does not plan on looking past any opponents, such as first round opponent North Olmsted, which has gone 1-16 so far this season.
“North Olmsted actually has some (good) players, and their record may not show it, but they can give us some trouble,” Fazekas commented. “Whenever you have to play a team three times, it’s hard to be as successful.
“When we play our games, we’re hard to beat so as long as we play what we play that’s all we worry about. I think the key is one game at a time, one possession at a time.”