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The Times

KOUTS — Westville's dynamic duo of Cade Albers and Tyrese Walker had individual career milestones within distance coming into Friday.

For Albers, he was approaching the school's career points record while Walker was approaching 1,000 career points. Behind a 31-point performance from Walker and 18 from Albers, the duo both hit their marks for the Blackhawks as they moved on to the finals with a 73-48 win over LaCrosse in the Class A Kouts Sectional.

"I'm very proud of those two guys," Westville coach Nate Mrozinski said. "They've put in the work the last two years and they both deserve it. It's a weird event to happen on the same night, but they're good teammates that like each other and root for each other. I'm really proud of these guys as well as everybody else.

"Going into the game, we figured Cade would get it, but we knew Tyrese was gonna have to have a good game for it. (LaCrosse) face-guarded Cade and they tried to play man-on-man with Tyrese and it's almost impossible to stay in front of him doing that. He recognized it, everyone else spaced the floor and that allowed Tyrese to get in there and do what he does."

The Blackhawks (17-8) will face off with 21st Century in the final for the second straight season after it blasted Morgan Township 78-40 in the opener. 

Despite being up 35-23 going into halftime, Westville coach Nate Mrozinski felt like his squad was outhustled and outrebounded. A different team Blackhawks team showed up out of the locker room, opening the floodgates with a 22-7 third quarter.

"We weren't too happy with our performance in the first half," Mrozinski said. "We regrouped at halftime and came out with a purpose. We challenged the guys to come out with more intensity and it definitely showed. Once we get on a roll, we can reel off points just like the rest of them. I preach that to the guys all the time that we're faster than most teams and to get out and use their speed and they used that to the best of their ability."

Walker scored 14 of his 31 in the third to eclipse 1,000. Albers also set his career mark in the quarter and sits at 1,401 points, passing the previous school record held by Jeff Wozniak.

"Before we came in, we knew we had to make history," Walker said. "The first thing was we gotta win, forget about the record, winning was the first thing. Once we got a big lead, we were able to go for history. I was telling Cade in warm-ups 'we gotta make history, we gotta make history,' so we did."

"My uncle (Brad Albers) had the record and got passed up, so it was good to get it back to the Albers last name," Albers said. "(Tyrese and I) were unstoppable. Once me and him get going like that, other teams are in trouble."

Melvon Cunningham left behind scorched nets with 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting from three for the Cougars (19-6) who led by as much as 42.

"That's what he does, he shoots 3s and he did his job (Friday)," coach Rodney Williams said of Cunningham. "I was very happy with our defense (Friday). We were ready to play and we had some things to prove."

Cunningham knocked down three 3s in both the second and third quarter. Demondrick Velez added 11 points and nine boards and Triyonta Lomax dished out seven dimes.

"I was feeling it," Cunningham said. "I was confident shooting it and that gets the bench into the game and gets everybody into it. It makes us real dangerous if I'm hitting shots like that."

Trevor Braden had 22 points and nine boards for the Cherokees, who led 9-6 before the 28-2 run from 21st Century.

"The press didn't bother us at first and we made some good decisions and then we started turning the ball over and stopped hitting shots and it just snowballed," Morgan coach Eric Braden said. "We were a 22-point underdog anyways and everybody's gotta be on the same page against a team like this and it seemed like not everybody was."

Hayden McDougal had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers (9-14).

"It seemed like we turned it over a lot in that third quarter and you can't give good teams an opportunity like that and that's ultimately what it came down to for us," coach Preston Frame said.


Sports Reporter

CJ grew up shadowing his father, Jim, at various prep events and now follows in his footsteps as a sports reporter at The Times. A Purdue University graduate, his allegiances lie with the Boilermakers, Cincinnati Bengals and Cincinnati Reds.