Westhill girls beat Ludden, claim league title

Not in a mood to share, the Westhill girls basketball team made sure that it owned the OHSL Liberty division regular-season championship all by itself.

Two next-door neighbors, Westhill and Bishop Ludden, would settle the league title between them Friday night in Geddes -- the Warriors trying to win it outright, the Gaelic Knights wanting a share of the title.

And Westhill would prevail, jumping all over Ludden in the first quarter and never surrendering that advantage as it beat the Gaelic Knights 50-41.

It was Ludden's Senior Night, and maybe the festivities took the players' focus away for a while - all the time Westhill needed to take charge.

The Warriors (16-2) scored the game's first 14 points, showing terrific rhythm on the offensive side and shutting down anything Ludden attempted to do.

The Gaelic Knights (13-5) recovered long enough to pull back within 18-8 by the time the period ended, and both teams would go cold the rest of the half.

Yet even when Ludden started to hit shots on a consistent basis in the third quarter, Westhill kept responding and, by turn, kept its comfortable margin.

Eighth-grader Anna Ross and Kathryn Christensen led Westhill with 14 points apiece, while Emily Haggerty put up 11 points and Kayla Stirpe earned eight points.

On Ludden's side, Bella Knapp had 17 points, 11 of them from successful free throws, while Ashley Cianfriglia had 11 points. Westhill's perimeter defense did a solid job, holding the Gaelic Knights to just three 3-pointers - two from Knapp, one from Cianfriglia.

Two nights earlier, Westhill clinched at least a tie for the title by finally breaking the two-season, four-game hex Cazenovia put on them by beating the Lakers 59-51.

The Lakers won three head-to-head-meetings with the Warriors in 2008-09 on its way to the Section III Class B title, then prevailed again 48-46 at Buckley Gym on Jan. 6. But it brought just a seven-player roster to Westhill for the rematch, and that would prove important.

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