Just as it has for the last decade, the Westhill girls basketball team carried championship aspirations into the Section III Class B playoffs, only to see them go unfulfilled again.
This time, the no. 2 seed Warriors were taken out at home by no. 7 seed Utica-Notre Dame, though the 60-40 defeat was as much a reflection of how well the Jugglers played as anything Westhill did wrong.
Besides, the seeds masked the quality of the opposition. The only reason UND, no. 19 in the state Class B rankings, was a no. 7 seed was because it had lost three games in a holiday tournament in Virginia, and twice more when All-State junior star Emily Durr missed time due to an elbow injury.
Durr was quite present on this night, and her first-half offense, combined with a Jugglers defense that constantly made Westhill uncomfortable, would make a big difference.
So would the fact that the Warriors' top all-around player, junior Anna Ross, would pick up two quick fouls in the first quarter. Even though Westhill didn't abandon its man-to-man defense, Ross could not be as aggressive as normal, and UND pounced, especially Durr.
Scoring nine points in the first quarter, Durr had the Jugglers up 13-10 before getting six more points as part of a 12-0 run to open the second period. All told, Durr got 17 of her 23 points in the first half, nearly matching Westhill by herself as UND took a 30-19 edge to the break.
Meanwhile, the Warriors faced all kinds of headaches with its attack. UND head coach Mike Plonisch said his team's intention was to make sure that the duo of Maggie Tripodi and Sam Peebles did not get open outside shots, forcing their teammates to fire away.
"We forced them to do what they didn't want to do," said Plonisch.