Westchester boys cruise past AHA

Jan. 17, 2013 @ 12:18 AM

Even without two of their best players, the Westchester Country Day boys played very well in a 75-40 win Wednesday over visiting American Hebrew Academy.

Josh Burton scored 26 points, including 24 in the first half, as Sadeeq Bello followed with 17 and David Ayodele added 12 inside to lead the Wildcats (8-9, 4-0 TAC 1A/2A), who were without Bruno Beca and Justice Cuthbertson.

Beca, a senior forward, didn’t play for the third straight game and is likely out for the rest of the season with an ACL injury. Cuthbertson, a junior guard, missed his second straight game with a knee injury but will likely return.

Westchester sank 12 3-pointers for the game, including five by Burton, in quickly building a 20-point lead in the final minute of the first quarter and a 32-point lead late in the second before leading 49-22 at halftime.

“It was great. We shared the ball well and shot very well,” Wildcats coach Dagan Nelson said. “One thing I told the team at halftime is that some nights we’re not going to shoot the basketball well. It’s fool’s gold — you can’t just rely on the 3-point shot. We’ve got to make sure we’re doing other things well and our defense has to carry us.

“I thought we tried to do the right things defensively, and I thought we played the full 32 minutes. I thought the second team did a good job the third and the fourth quarters. We did a good job sharing the ball.”

Westchester played solidly all-around, finding open looks both in their halfcourt set and in transition, as well as rebounding well and clamping down defensively. For much of the night, when it had an open look, it connected.

“My teammates were finding me with the ball, and I had open shots,” Burton said. “People were attacking and goal and kicking it out. It felt really good. I was just feeling it tonight.”

The lead peaked at 40 points in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the game.

“We did a great job,” Nelson said. “I’d like to see us get it inside a little more. But the 3s were good 3s; they were open 3s. The feet were set, in rhythm. As long as they’re good 3s, I have no problem with them. It’s great — it just builds confidence.

“I just don’t want to use them all up in one game,” he added with a laugh. “... We want to be playing our best basketball at the end of January into February, and we’re getting there. It just comes down to defense and rebounding.”

Daniel Sasson led the Eagles with 14 points while Omer Sananes followed with 11. The Wildcats will host No. 2 state-ranked Gaston Day on Friday before returning to TAC play Wednesday at home against Carolina Friends.