If Westlake High's boys basketball team wasn't already eliminated from the Marmonte League race after consecutive losses to Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, a loss Wednesday night against Channel Islands almost certainly would have done the job.
Westlake, however, rebounded from its two-game skid by holding off a late Channel Islands charge and defeated the visiting Raiders, 70-59.
But Warrior Coach Roy Gilmore still isn't very optimistic about his team's chances of overtaking league-leading Simi Valley.
"I can't see Simi Valley losing two league games," Gilmore said. "You never know, if Simi does get beat, we may still have a chance."
Westlake (11-5 overall, 2-2 in league), ranked No. 8 by the Times, struggled against Channel Islands (6-7, 1-2) in the first quarter, which ended with Westlake ahead, 13-12.
But Westlake center Dave Heckmann started scoring with little resistance and the Warriors forged a 36-27 halftime lead.
"I was able to do what I had to do," said Heckmann, who finished with 16 points, nine in the first half. Heckmann made 7 of 13 shots and grabbed eight rebounds.
But when the 6-8 senior picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter and his team leading, 51-37, Gilmore sent him to the bench and that's when Channel Islands made its move.
Forward Gerald Boyd scored eight third-quarter points and guard Victor Caro scored 11 of his game-high 19 points.
But Westlake, which made 26 of 46 shots for the game, managed to remain in front, thanks largely to the play of guard Rick Welch, who tied Heckmann with a team-high 16 points.
Welch hit a clutch jumper and stole an inbounds pass for another score, and when Heckmann returned, Westlake held a 64-59 lead.
Heckmann scored only three points in the fourth quarter, but he contained Boyd for the remainder of the game.
The Warriors made 26 of 46 shots in the game.
"At least we got back on the winning track," Gilmore said. "If we play as a team, we could finish out the season on a high note."
Heckmann also knows that catching Simi Valley will be difficult.
"It'll be hard," Heckmann said of the league race. "It will take someone to knock off Simi. We'll just have to play hard.
CHANNEL ISLANDS----Jones 5, Otis 13, Hempstead 8, Caro 19, Tovar 0, Boyd 10, Hunter 4.
WESTLAKE--Keenan 9, Henderson 9 and 13 rebounds, Heckmann 16, Welch 16, Cangelosi 6, Fassl 7, Guss 3, Meyer 2, Logan 2.