Chase Cotton helped Leander stay atop the district standings at the midway point of the district season.
The senior scored 30 points on four 3-pointers and made six of seven free throws to help the Lions beat Westlake 74-57 at home Tuesday night to hand the Chaps their first district loss of the season.
“The kid was on fire,” Leander head coach Clint Bradley said. “Chase doesn’t understand how good he really is. I’ve watched him develop for a long time and when he’s feeling it he can go inside and outside. I’m very proud of him.
Leander is in a four-way tie for the District 25-6A lead at 4-1 with Westlake and Lake Travis, which beat Vista Ridge Tuesday night. The Rangers are in fourth at 3-2, while Vandegrift earned its first district win on Tuesday, beating Hays 73-65.
Kobe Thompson added 13 points, JP Stevens scored 12 points with two first-half 3-pointers and six fourth-quarter free throws Cody Bayer scored six points for the Lions (12-7, 4-1).
Leander made nine triples in the game, including three straight from Bayer, Cotton and Stevens to start the game.
“I wouldn’t say we live or die by the three,” Bradley said. “But we’ve got the ability to score on the interior as well and it frees up some open 3-pointers and some of the guys we’ve got can really shoot it. So why not let it fly.”
Cotton caught fire in the second quarter, scoring 13 of the Lions’ 18 points in the quarter to take a 37-28 halftime lead.
But the shooting streak ended early in the second half as Leander couldn’t score for more than two minutes to start the half. Westlake, meanwhile, went on a 10-0 run and took its first lead since the opening quarter.
Cotton ended the run with a corner 3-pointer to give Leander the lead again and the Lions never trailed again. Leander scored a game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter on 15-of-18 free throws down the stretch.
“If one or two guys don’t have something going, we have a few other guys that can step up,” Bradley said. “This group of guys has been playing together since they were very young and they’re very cohesive. They don’t care who scores.”
The Lions had a hugely successful start to the district year, beating Vista Ridge and Vandegrift in back-to-back overtime games in early January. The Lions beat Hays 68-56 last Tuesday before suffering their only loss to Lake Travis 51-43 on Friday.
Leander returns to action on the road at Lehman Friday at 7:30 p.m. before having next Tuesday off.
The Lions last made the playoffs in 2014 when they snuck into the postseason with a fourth-place district finish, but lost in the first round to LBJ. They want this season to be different a story.
“(This game was) huge for our confidence,” Bradley said. “We kind of gave one away against Lake Travis and we just didn’t finish in the fourth quarter. We feel we’re pretty good and so we’re going to just keep plugging away.”
Cedar Park 53, Bastrop 46
Rouse 59, East View 47
Leander 74, Westlake 57
Vandegrift 73, Hays 65
Lake Travis 63, Vista Ridge 59
Liberty Hill 87, Glenn 25
HS GIRLS BASKETBALL
Cedar Park 59, Bastrop 44
Vandegrift 73, Hays 65
Vista Ridge 87, Lake Travis 64
Rouse 47, East View 34
Westlake 41, Leander 40
Liberty Hill 69, Glenn 22