Jan 20, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
With its most difficult stretch of the season behind them, the Westhill girls basketball team, at 13-0, can start to entertain the notion of an undefeated regular season.
The state Class B no. 5-ranked Warriors were pushed by state no. 11-ranked Bishop Ludden Thursday night, but again responded with a big-time victory, toppling the Gaelic Knights 55-50.
These neighbors had first met Jan. 3, at Ludden, where Westhill started slowly, but still won 69-63 behind a career-best effort from Maggie Tripodi, who finished with 25 points as Anna Ross added 23 points.
Tripodi and Ross would factor into the rematch, in different ways. Tripodi notched five quick points as Westhill, with a 12-2 run late in the first quarter, zoomed into a 14-7 lead.
By the third quarter, the margin was 41-26, with Westhill enjoying some of its best offensive balance of the season. All five starters – Tripodi, Ross, Sam Peebles, Gwen Dougherty and Kelly Mascari – had at least six points, the Warriors confidently moving the ball around and getting open looks.
Just as important was the way Ross played on the defensive side. Assigned to Ludden’s leading scorer, Kayla Kibling (who was averaging nearly 15 points per game), the sophomore guard rarely let Kibling touch the ball, as she only managed nine points and one 3-pointer.
Despite all this, and despite three early fouls that sidelined Nicole Granteed for large portions of the first half, Ludden would fight back. It closed the third quarter on a 12-2 run, and were within four, 43-39, early in the final period before Peebles’ 3-pointer stretched the margin back to seven.
When the Gaelic Knights closed within 48-44, again the Warriors responded as, with 2:43 left, Tripodi sank a 3-pointer from the corner. She also hit two key free throws down the stretch, finishing with 14 points.
“We hit big shots,” said head coach Sue Ludwig. “When other teams make a run, we always seem to have an answer.”
Peebles led Westhill with 16 points and Dougherty added 10 points. For Ludden, Kelly and Nicole Granteed each finished with 11 points, while Lauren Roy contributed eight points.
Ludden nearly tripped up in the lead-up to the return engagement with Westhill, needing to rally in the fourth quarter of last Tuesday night’s game with Jordan-Elbridge to get past the Eagles 46-42.
In their second encounter (the Gaelic Knights had won a 58-55 thriller Dec. 29 in the Watkins Glen Tournament), it appeared that Ludden had taken control, outscoring J-E 14-6, and it still had that margin late in the third quarter.
But the Eagles, led by Molly Hourigan and Grace Dungey, went on a 13-0 run that stretched into the fourth quarter and put Ludden behind 36-31, forcing Gaelic Knights coach Jerry Roesch to use a time-out.
And Ludden answered in kind, going on a 14-0 spurt of its own spurred by hot outside shooting to move ahead 45-35, and while J-E made one more late push, Ludden held on.
Kibling worked her total to 14 points, while Nicole Granteed and Natalie Barletta finished with 11 points apiece. The Eagles saw Hourigan amass 16 points, 19 rebounds and eight blocks, while Dungey contributed 11 points.
As Ludden battled, Westhill blew out Hannibal 59-27 to make it 12 wins in a row. Outscoring that other group of Warriors in every quarter, Westhil peaked with an 18-7 surge through the third quarter.
All nine Westhill players earned at least one field goal, paced by Peebles, whose 17 points included four 3-pointers. Ross finished with 16 points, while Dougherty put up eight points.
Of Westhill’s five remaining regular-season games, only one, the Feb. 9 regular-season finale against Bishop Grimes, is against a team currently holding a wining record.