WESTLAKE — Before Monday’s Southwestern Conference game against Berea-Midpark, Westlake’s Gavin Skelly was cheered by the home crowd when he was recognized as the Demons’ all-time leading scorer.
It was just the first time Skelly would make the crowd rise to its feet.
The 6-foot-9 senior had a pair of two-handed dunks on his way to a game-high 21 points to lead the Demons to a 68-55 upset of the SWC-leading Titans.
Westlake (15-4, 8-4) scored the first six points and never trailed while playing one of its best games of the season and, in the process, avenging a 71-54 loss earlier this month.
Berea-Midpark (17-3, 9-2) will have to wait until Friday when it faces Olmsted Falls to try to clinch the league title.
“Berea-Midpark is one of the better teams in the Cleveland area but we played our best game tonight to beat them,” Skelly said.
“There is nothing better than seeing your team play 110 percent and win a game like this.”
Besides all the points and the 15 rebounds, Skelly also had to guard Titans 6-11 big man Nolan Gerrity. Skelly held the junior to nine points on 3-of-9 shooting from the field.
“He’s tough to guard,” Skelly said. “Nolan is a Division I prospect and he has a lot of talent. We both battled it out in the paint. I feel like we both played great. It was my teammates that stepped up and got the win for us.”
Connor Meek scored 13 points and Anthony Trujillo added 10 for the Demons. Meek got Westlake going early with eight of his points in the first half, and Trujillo was left open for a pair of 3-pointers as the Berea-Midpark defense collapsed on Skelly.
“We came out strong and fast tonight with a lot of defensive intensity,” Meek said. “We were motivated by our past two losses. We really wanted to fire out and win one at home tonight.”
The Titans trailed 34-28 at the half but came out with a 7-2 run to start the third quarter. Alex Brown’s layup with 5:32 left in the third made the score 36-35. Brown matched Skelly with a 21-point performance to lead Berea-Midpark.
After Westlake pushed its lead back to six, Titans senior Doktavious Coker stripped the ball from Skelly at midcourt and had an uncontested path to the basket. Instead of going for a simple layup, Coker instead attempted a dunk that was thwarted by the side of the rim.
The Demons quickly went the other way and got a 3-pointer from sophomore Andris Balodis that made the score 46-37. Berea-Midpark never got closer than six points again.
“I can tell if we’re ready to play a 32-minute game and I felt early that we were ready tonight,” Westlake coach Shawn Hood said. “This might be the best 32 minutes of basketball we’ve had this season. That’s a great team with phenomenal players that we beat tonight. With the exception of a couple games, these boys have played well all season, but tonight was our best overall team performance.”
Hood credited the Demons defense with leading the way against a team that had scored 60 or more points in 18 of its first 19 games.
“We have a terrific interior defender in Gavin and we also have a terrific exterior defender in Makis Beach,” Hood said. “We never took Beach out in the second half and we had him guarding Brown. They both made a huge difference for us.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Westlake 68, Berea-Midpark 55
BEREA-MIDPARK (55): Alex Brown 6-8-21, Michael Schuller 5-0-12, Devon Posey 2-1-6, Doktavious Coker 1-0-2, Joey Bachie 1-1-3, Marlon Robertson 1-0-2, Nolan Gerrity 3-3-9. Totals 19-13-55.
WESTLAKE (68): Danny Slavik 1-0-2, Anthony Trujillo 4-0-10, Joe Hadib-Nisssan 3-0-6, Makis Brown 3-0-6, Andris Balodis 1-1-4, Connor Meek 6-0-13, Gavin Skelly 7-7-21, Cameron Brown 3-0-6. Totals 28-8-68.
Berea-Midpark 11 17 18 9 — 55
Westlake 22 12 19 15 — 68
Three-point goals: Berea-Midpark (Schuller 2, Brown, Posey), Westlake (Trujillo 2, Meek, Balodis). Field goals: Berea-Midpark 19-56 (34 percent), Westlake 28-60 (47 percent). Free throws: Berea-Midpark 13-25 (52 percent), Westlake 8-11 (73 percent). Rebounds: Berea-Midpark 34, Westlake 37. Turnovers: Berea-Midpark 7, Westlake 10. Total fouls: Berea-Midpark 11, Westlake 17.
Junior varsity: Berea-Midpark, 41-39