Feb 13, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
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.
It was Senior Night for Haggerty, Christensen, Stirpe and Fiona Stack, and together they blanked Cazenovia in the game’s first five minutes as Westhill raced out to a 12-4 lead.
The Lakers fought back, though, catching up in the second quarter and even taking the lead twice during the third period. But when its two leading scorers, Ashley Stec and Ellen Burr, got into serious foul trouble, Westhill got more aggressive — and it led to a 21-4 run down the stretch that proved decisive.
Haggerty really stood out, with 16 of her 22 points coming in the second half as she connected on four 3-pointers. Christensen and Ross provided the support, with 11 points apiece, while Stirpe earned seven points and Gwen Dougherty got six points. Stec had 21 points before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.
As this went on, Ludden kept its league title hopes alive by going to Phoenix and putting together a 57-45 victory over the Firebirds.
The Gaelic Knights’ defensive pressure throughout the first half allowed it to take control, working its way to a 29-18 lead. Though it evened out in the second half, Ludden did a solid job of protecting its margin against all of Phoenix’s charges.
With Phoenix ganging up on Cianfriglia (she had just nine points), Knapp flourished, hitting on four 3-pointers and finishing with 21 points overall. Kayla Kibling matched Cianfriglia with nine points of her own, while Natalie Barletta earned eight points.