DI Girls: Westlake rolls again, to face Lorain next
Story by Jim Horvath
Photos and video by Larry Bennet
It’s safe to say the Westlake girls basketball team has barely had to break a sweat in its first two games tournament play.
It’s also safe to say things will get much tougher for the Demons from this point on.
For the second straight game, Westlake overwhelmed its opponent in the first quarter. The Demons blanked John Marshall, 22-0, in the first quarter, went to their bench early and often, then cruised to a 63-27 win Wednesday night in a Division I sectional title game at Elyria Catholic.
No. 2 seed Westlake, however, walked off the Coliseum floor knowing tougher times lied ahead no matter who it faced in the district semis. In the nightcap, No. 3 seed Lorain used its height and athleticism to get past a hot-shooting Olmsted Falls squad, 64-49, setting up a Titans-Demons matchup in next week’s district semifinals at EC.
“We’re rested and we’re healthy, so that’s the biggest thing right now,” said Demons head coach Chip Weiss, whose team forced an incredible 20 Lawyer turnovers in the first quarter alone.
“We’ve got a lot time to prepare for whoever is next,” Weiss said prior to the Lorain-Olmsted Falls contest. “We’re ready to go, I know that for sure.”
Westlake, now 19-3, didn’t look so ready on the offensive end at the beginning of Wednesday night’s game. While the Demons’ defense was relentless, the offense missed numerous scoring opportunities in the first two minutes of the game.
Had the Demons gotten off to a better start, there’s no telling how many points they would have scored. As it was, they made a respectable 10 of 24 shots and turned the ball over only three times during the first-quarter onslaught.
Junior guard Liz Kobe finally got the Demons on the board with a steal for two, then senior guard Maggie Zimmerman drove down the lane for another score. After the first of two John Marshall timeouts in the quarter, senior Katie Carroll scored on an offensive stickback to make it 6-0, Westlake.
Zimmerman followed with a 3-pointer, then scored the next four of her team’s points to make it 13-0 before the second timeout by the Lawyers.
After the timeout, Zimmerman scored again inside. Kobe followed up with a driving jumper, then Zimmerman scored on a steal. The rout was on.
Senior Rachael Trujillo scored a pair of free throws to open the second quarter to give Westlake a 24-0 advantage.The Lawyers didn’t score their first points until Ayeesa Hughes scored on a short jumper 48 seconds into the quarter.
The Demons’ lead increased to 28 on Ally Labroo’s steal for two that made the score 36-8. With the bench already logging serious minutes, Westlake had a commanding 38-10 lead at the half. An 18-4 run to start the second half made it 56-14.
With that, Weiss pulled his starters for the night and let his reserves gain some valuable tournament experience.
“It’s a good thing for us to get those kids in there and get the experience of playing in a tournament game,” Weiss said. “It’s fun for them, but now we really have to get focused on what’s coming up next week.
“We’re OK right now,” said Weiss when asked about the back-to-back lopsided outcomes so far in tournament play. “We’ve been going up against our freshmen boys in practice, so that’s been a great look for us this week.”
Zimmerman led all scorers with 15 points, while Trujillo and Lauren Wichman each pitched in with 10. Carroll had seven points and eight rebounds, while junior Olivia Bronikowski came off the bench to add six points.
“This is the first time I’ve ever seen this,” said Weiss of his team’s two straight shutouts in the first quarter, the first coming last Saturday against Midview. “But we pride ourselves on our defense, and that’s what sets the tempo for us.
“We always want to win the first quarter. We want to establish the tempo of the game and set the tone, then keep it there, protect the lead and go after it from there,” he added.
Setting the tone could prove to be a bit tougher for Weiss and his Demons next Wednesday at 6 p.m. That’s when they face Lorain in the first of two district semifinal games. The winner will move on to the district title game Saturday, March 3 at 3:30 p.m. at the Coliseum.
Hot-shooting Bulldogs fall short
Olmsted Falls, despite 20 points from a hot-shooting Jaime Fossen, saw its tournament run come to an end as Lorain moved on to next week’s district semifinals.
The Bulldogs stayed close in the first half as Fossen hit four 3-pointers. But the Titans inched away and held a 37-26 lead at the half. Falls continued to battle, but Lorain managed to maintain its double-digit advantage most of the second half.
Allison Gerycz followed up Fossen’s big night with 11 points, including three treys. Lorain’s Alex Harris had 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Breanna Fortney and Madison Stoyka added 15 and 14 points, respectively.
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