WEST ISHPEMING — One of the most fascinating aspects of March Madness is the underdogs. Those teams that everyone doubts and nobody gives a chance. The Westwood Patriots fall in that category, and to a certain degree, that label was justly deserved. In their Class C state quaterfinal tomorrow night against undefeated McBain, their label will be David while the Ramblers are Goliath. And before you start counting them out again, we all know how that story ended.
The Patriots are in a field where all the teams left have 19 wins or more. After locking up the regional title last week, the team is starting to realize the magnitude of what they have been able to accomplish.
“It’s definitely crazy but I definitely think we can keep moving forward. You look at teams like McBain and they may be undefeated but it’s all about the heart and it’s all about who plays a better game that night,” forward Connor Hanlon said.
“Yeah it’s been a crazy ride and we just got to embrace it and build on it. Keep going and hopefully, we can make this community even more proud of us,” said guard Luke Gray.
“Obviously we’re kind of like a Cinderella story. It’s been pretty exciting around school and around practice. We’re feeling optimistic going to Petoskey,” guard Andrew Manzoline said.
The Patriots did not have back to back wins all year and had lost four straight games late in the year before getting a win in L’Anse to end the regular season. So what’s different about the team now that is riding a five game winning streak?
“I think we just don’t want to lose. We don’t want our season to be ending. Our seniors don’t want it to be over forever I guess,” said center Ryan Stanaway.
“We’re clicking at the right time. We’re peaking. We’ve always played hard. We’ve always done the little things right. But now we’re getting contributions, not just from one person every night. We’re getting contributions from two people, three people. We’ve got guys coming off the bench, doing everything that we need them to do that they’ve been coached up to do all year like playing great defense, hitting a big bucket here or there or making some big free throws,” head coach Chad Hewitt said.
Tuesday’s game in Petoskey is scheduled for 7 p.m. with a trip to state semi–finals in East Lansing on the line.