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It's a Fact: Westlake Reaches Final With Win Over Lynwood

March 04, 1987|STEVE HENSON | Times Staff Writer

Selected facts from a Southern Section 4-A semifinal Tuesday night sound like a prescription for Westlake High's elimination.

The Warriors' leading scorer had all of four points, the team shot only four free throws in the first three quarters and scored just six points in the second quarter.

Fortunately for Westlake, different facts paint a prettier portrait.

Others picked up the slack for cold-shooting Paul Keenan, the team played a stifling zone defense and power forward Jim Henderson made four clutch free throws in the last three minutes.

So the plain fact is that Westlake advances to the last act--the 4-A final at the Sports Arena on Saturday night--after beating Lynwood, 51-42, before a packed house at Moorpark College.

"We are really well-rounded," said Keenan, who scored only four points after scoring 38 in last week's win over defending 4-A champion Muir. "If one guy is off, others compensate."

Yes, balance got the Warriors back on the beam. Every starter made his mark.

Off-guard Charlie Cangelosi, who gets the crowd going by thrusting an arm in the air during timeouts, hit four long jump shots in the first half and dove for loose balls like he was in a rugby scrum.

Center Dave Heckmann, a muscular 6-8, has shed a reputation for inconsistency with four outstanding playoff performances in a row. He had a team-high 14 points and 11 rebounds Tuesday night.

"This is the way I envisioned Dave playing since he came to Westlake," Coach Roy Gilmore said.

Point guard Rick Welch had 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting, and made two free throws with 2:35 left to give Westlake a 48-38 lead. He also had eight assists.

Henderson was probably the most unlikely contributor in the eyes of Lynwood Coach Chick Peterson. Henderson (6-4, 200 pounds) is built like a linebacker, or a catcher, which he will be for Westlake if this basketball season ever ends. He looks like he's in there to snatch rebounds and throw elbows.

All of which is deceptive to opponents, who figure Henderson is the man to foul late in the game. "If I needed someone to shoot free throws for the state championship, Jim would be the guy," Gilmore said.

Said Henderson, through a broad smile: "Just because I'm a catcher doesn't mean I don't have some athletic ability. I've always had a pretty decent touch."

Westlake led, 44-38, with three minutes left when Henderson stepped to the line and visualized the ball going through the net, which barely moved as both shots slipped through.

He repeated the effort with 1:30 left to give the Warriors a 50-42 lead.

"The exact same thing happened in the Muir game," Henderson said. "Those shots were going through my mind. That's the best time of the game."

Keenan was going through the worst of times in the first half. He missed all five of his shots, including two layups.

After taking a 19-13 first-quarter lead, Westlake made seven turnovers and scored only three baskets in the second quarter. The Warriors' zone defense kept Lynwood from getting inside, however, and Westlake led, 25-22, at halftime.

"Coach Gilmore said at halftime to contribute in other ways if I wasn't shooting well," Keenan said.

He found a way. The 6-4 senior grabbed nine rebounds, seven in the second half, and his crisp passes helped the Warriors slow the tempo late in the game.

Peterson, whose team finished 22-6 and was champion of the San Gabriel Valley League, was nearly speechless after the game. He did, however, create a new verb.

"They tempo-ed us," he said. "Our game is running, and they forced us into a half-court game."

Guard Adrian Jackson led Lynwood with 13 points. Dion Robinson added 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Most of Jackson's points came on long jumpers, while Robinson (6-8) had several baskets after offensive rebounds.

Westlake (21-7) finished second behind Simi Valley in the Marmonte League and considered the season a disappointment before the playoffs began.

That is all ancient history now.

"When I started coaching I never thought I would make it to the Sports Arena," Gilmore said. "You think of the Mater Deis, Crenshaws, the Long Beach Polys when you think of the Sports Arena and the finals."

And this season, you think of Westlake.

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