By Eliot Schickler

eschickler@bcnnew.com

One more loss and the Weston boys basketball team misses the state playoffs. Weston lost its eighth straight game and fell on the brink of elimination Tuesday in a 74-45 loss at Kolbe Cathedral (12-5) to drop to 5-12.

The Trojans started off strong with junior Lyle Mitchell (five points, five rebounds, one assist, four blocked shots, two forced turnovers) blocking a shot, which was followed by junior Max Molinsky's steal. The southpaw Molinsky (five points, six assists, two steals, three forced turnovers) then set up freshman Erik Dammen-Brower's layup which gave Weston its only lead of the game, 2-0.

It all went downhill for the Trojans after that with Kolbe Cathedral sophomore Robert Pinnock answering by swishing a 3-pointer to give the Cougars a 3-2 lead. Weston had trouble rebounding and finished the game with 14 rebounds, which paved the way for Kolbe Cathedral to take advantage and score on many putbacks.

"We had trouble rebounding," Trojans Coach Ryan Errico said. "We were a step slower in everything and that killed us."

Turnovers also hurt Weston as it finished the first half with 13, 22 overall. The Cougars took advantage and led 37-12 at the break and the Trojans looked demoralized when they walked off the court for halftime. This feeling wasn't solely from this game but is built in from the frustration of losing many close games beforehand.

"It's experience [or the lack thereof] and it hurts us," Errico said. "Bottom line, we have to learn how to win games and a year or two from now, we'll win the close games we've been losing. The kids still feel they can win but are struggling to close out games. How can you not feel demoralized?"

Conversely, while Weston had trouble on offense, it did some nice things on defense. The Trojans forced 11 Kolbe Cathedral turnovers in the first half, 19 overall. Dammen-Brower (10 points, one rebound, one assist, one steal, two forced turnovers) hit some layups for Weston and impressed his coach.

"The positive is we had a good performance from Dammen-Brower and the young guys gave us energy in the end," Errico said.

Senior tri-captains Cole Rosemann (eight points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal) and Justin Mettel (eight points, one rebound, one blocked shot, two forced turnovers) had a few offensive spurts for the Trojans. Freshmen Grant Limone (two points, one rebound, one forced turnover, one tieup) and Asher Tyson (two points, one forced turnover) and sophomore Charlie DiPasquale (one rebound, one steal) helped out in spurts.

The Trojans received a moral boost when senior tri-captain James Weitzman (two steals, one forced turnover) drew a charge. Juniors JD Simons (two points, two rebounds, two steals, one forced turnover) and Evan Blitzer (two points, one blocked shot) and freshman Ethan Tyson (one rebound, two assists) gave Weston a boost in the late stages of the game.

"What's pushing us is that we have seniors who don't want their careers to end and they drive the team and the younger kids are fighting for playing time," Errico said.