KOUTS — For 21st Century senior DeAndre Gholston, the goal has remained to get to Indianapolis, having been a step away for the past two seasons.
On Saturday night in the Class A Kouts Sectional championship, Gholston let it be known that he was the best player on the floor posting a double-double of 27 points and 14 rebounds in a 81-37 thrashing of Westville for the team's third straight crown.
"It feels great to get another opportunity to keep winning titles," he said. "It's my senior year and I want to end it all by winning state, that's always been the big goal. There was an article about lately about us being a school without borders. We've worked every summer and every year for this and I grew up in this school system since the third grade and I've worked on my game all year, every day. "
The Cougars (20-6) led by 14 at halftime and turned up the heat defensively to blow the game wide-open, forcing 13 of Westville's 26 turnovers in the third quarter as part of a 23-1 run. Johnell Davis scored 10 of his 16 in the third as they extended their lead to 30 by the end of the third. Davis also had eight rebounds.
Cade Albers and Tyrese Walker scored nine points apiece for the Blackhawks (17-9). They shot 15-of-52 (28.8 percent) from the field and 4-of-28 (14.3 percent) behind the arc and were out-rebounded 52 to 36, giving up 22 offensive rebounds.
"Even though we were down 14 at the half, I was talking to the coaching staff that it felt like even more when they have a three on the board and we have a one on the board," Westville coach Nate Mrozinski said. "I tried to stress to the guys that 14 was right there. In a game like this that's uptempo, you can get 14 just like that. I told them it's either gonna be seven by the start of the fourth or 24, 25. It was gonna go one way or another. I give thanks to my seniors, they played their hearts out for me.
Gholston had 17 points and seven rebounds in the second half, adding four steals for the game. Melvon Cunningham (14 points) and Triyonta Lomax (10) were also in double figures for the Cougars, who led by as much as 49.
"We switched our defense. We talked about intensity because we came out lackadaisical, but then we turned up the pressure again," Gholston said. "(Westville) played a zone and coach told us about attacking the gaps and we did that. We kept our heads up and went up strong or we kicked it out to the open teammates."
21st Century will play Elkhart Christian Academy next Saturday morning at Culver Community.
"We tightened up the defense and our defense turned into offense," 21st Century coach Rodney Williams said. "We made a couple of subs and got a couple of our better defensive players in and they gave us a big boost and that was the difference in the game. We count on (Davis and Gholston) being our two leading scorers and they came through for us. This win feels good, it's a great feeling."