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Westhilll girls beat J-E in overtime

In the middle of a homestand that could decide the OHSL Liberty division race, the Westhill girls basketball team nearly surrendered first place to Jordan-Elbridge.

A long second-half drought allowed the Warriors to squander a comfortable lead Wednesday night - but it recovered with a surge in overtime to beat the Eagles 54-43.

Already, Westhill had beaten Bishop Ludden 44-28 on Jan. 8 to start this three-game stretch. It left the Warriors one game ahead of the Gaelic Knights, plus J-E and Marcellus - both of whom would be visiting Westhill this week.

The Eagles came first, trying to avenge its season-opening loss to the Warriors on Dec. 1 that preceded a seven-game win streak that thrust them into the spotlight.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Emily Haggerty pushed Westhill in front late in the first quarter. Then the Warriors' defense began to clamp down, forcing a series of J-E turnovers and a 13-2 scoring run.

Trailing 28-15, J-E got a needed burst of momentum when Grace Dungey and Molly Hourigan hit back-to-back baskets to cut the deficit to 28-19 just before halftime. And that would carry over into the second half, in a big way.

At one point, Westhill went more than 10 minutes without scoring a point, and managed just four field goals the entire half.

Most of that was due to a J-E defense that kept its eye on the perimeter while dominating in the paint. Molly Hourigan was responsible for the inside part, the sophomore piling up 20 rebounds and six blocks to go with her team-high 15 points.

The Eagles grabbed the lead twice in the fourth quarter, only to have Westhill regain the edge. Kathryn Christensen got back-to-back baskets in a 35-second span, and the Warriors were up 39-36 with a minute to play.

Still, J-E didn't give up, thanks to Kali Davis. All Davis did was hit a runner with 49 seconds left, then sink a free throw with 21.6 seconds to play to tie it, 39-39. When Christensen's last-second shot banged off the rim, the teams went to overtime.

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