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Westhill girls run ends in sectional semis

Anything seemed possible for the Westhill girls basketball team in the wake of its monumental victory over undefeated no. 1 seed South Jefferson in the Section III Class B quarterfinals on Feb. 26.

That win had proved historical in many ways, not the least of which because it gave long-time head coach Sue Ludwig her 400th career win.

And it sent the Warriors into Tuesday night's Class B semifinal at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill against no. 5 seed Utica-Notre Dame convinced that it could offer another surprise.

But the Jugglers ended Westhill's title dreams, mostly relying on the duo of Emily Durr and Haley Sehring, plus an air-tight defense, to eliminate the Warriors 54-45.

Going in, Westhill knew that it had to find some way to contain Durr, the superb UND freshman who had scored 35 and 33 points, respectively, in early-round playoff wins over Canastota and Ilion. At the same time, the Jugglers honed in on Ashley Cianfriglia, determined not to let the Westhill senior break loose for open shots.

In this exchange, like all the others, UND would come out in front. Cianfriglia only managed 11 points, tailed all night by Jugglers guard Jordan Morgan and unable to get into any kind of rhythm.

Meanwhile, Durr, though unable to match the gaudy numbers of the earlier rounds, still managed a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds. Just as importantly, her front-line mate, Sehring, hurt the Warriors with 20 points and 17 rebounds.

Westhill saw the Jugglers build much of its margin in the second quarter, grabbing a 29-20 edge. Led by freshman Anna Ross, who had 16 points, the Warriors hung in there, but never could make the sustained run to catch up. Maggie Tripodi, Gwen Dougherty and Sam Peebles each finished with six points.

Finishing with a mark of 15-5, Westhill went far despite losing two players to season-ending knee injuries early in the winter. And it should make a serious title run next winter since everyone, except Cianfriglia, is expected to return.

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