The Westwood girls basketball program seems to be on the verge of a breakthrough.
The Warriors are starting to believe they cannot only compete with, but beat most of the teams they step on the floor with most nights.
Tuesday was certainly one of those nights as Westwood stymied Mountain View with its defensive pressure and kept extending the lead with a barrage of outside shots for a 72-40 win in East Valley Region action.
“It’s been five years of working on getting them to starting to believe,” Warriors coach Glenda Skalitzky said. “All the hard work the kids have done for years and years is starting pay off. We can play some good defense when they focus, and we have some good shooters. When they put it together we can do some good things.”
The Warriors (12-5, 3-1) started slow offensively until a spark led to a 7-0 run in the first quarter and seemingly shook loose some confidence as Westwood poured it on the rest of the game.
Westwood connected on 11 3-pointers from five different players and led 32-22 at the half and then used a 10-0 spurt to end the third quarter to put the game away, leading 52-33 entering the final quarter.
While the 3-pointers by Maggie Makil (17 points, three 3-pointers), Mariana Porter (10 points, three 3-pointers), Sydney Carlos (13 points, two 3-pointers), Destiny Waters (seven points, two 3-pointers) and Abrielle John (13 points, one 3-pointer) were flashy, the difference began on the other end of the floor.
The Westwood defense forced Mountain View (6-11, 0-3) to more than 13 turnovers, one-shot possessions and level of frustration that comes when facing a scrappy, pressing defense that plays just as hard up 25 points as it did in a close game early in the contest.
“We capitalized on their turnovers when we pressed them,” John said. “We are a young team, and teams under rate us. Sometimes we play to level, but we are getting better at playing our game no matter who we play.”
The Toros struggled from the start and made a good run in the second quarter to cut a double-digit deficit to a six-point game, but didn’t have enough to keep up with the Warriors.
Mountain View is still trying to turn things around under Bill Guthrie. The program only had five total freshmen when he took over the program in 2015. Now there are about 15 girls on the freshman squad as things continue to build.
The loss against Westwood showed how much the Mountain View program needs to grow with most of the contributing players coming from the sophomore class.
“We are young and still learning how to win,” Guthrie said. “We are making some strides. We are just trying to create a competitive atmosphere, but it is hard to do when you don’t many players to work with. It’s starting to head in the right direction.”
The Toros were led by Maianalani Ta’ase ‘s 15 points and Tilly Klepinger added 10.
It wasn’t nearly enough to hang with the Warriors and their expanding confidence.
“We’ve been preaching about the little things, and those little things are going to get us where we want to be,” Skalitzky said. “They did that tonight and it was great to see. I’m super proud of them.
“They’ve responded and are doing the little things to win games. They deserve these wins because of the work they’ve put in to get here.”
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Westwood 72, Mountain View
MV 9 13 11 7-40
WW 13 19 20 20-72
Mountain View (6-11, 0-3): Klepinger 3-4-10, Larsen 2-0-4, Peterson 1-0-2, Ta’ase 5-5-15, Crane 4-1-9. TOTALS: 15-10-40.
Westwood (12-5, 3-1): Porter 3-1-10, Makil 6-2-17, Waters 2-1-7, Carlos 5-1-13, Nelson 0-1-1, Friacho 1-2-4, O’Neal 1-3-5, John 5-2-13, Elias 1-0-2. TOTALS: 24-13-72.