WHS opens league play with win

Westfield’s Keri Paton looks to go up with the ball as Amherst’s Sarah Mangels (5) defends. (Photo by Chris Putz)

WESTFIELD – The Westfield High School girls’ basketball team has arrived.
Westfield applied suffocating defense in the third quarter, and turned to the 3-point basket in the fourth quarter last night to survive the Amherst Hurricanes at home, 42-34.
The Bombers (2-8) held their opponent to no points over an eight-minute stretch in the second half, until allowing a basket 55 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Westfield received key 3-pointers from Lexi Minicucci, Alicia Arnold (2), and Keri Paton, whose scoring play resulted from a traditional and-one.
“You can’t question our effort,” said Westfield coach Ralph Loos, who noted his team’s ability to force Amherst to continually use 15 seconds off the play clock every possession by applying a full court press.
“There hasn’t been any quit in any of them,” Loos said. “I’m proud of them, and they’re still alive (for the postseason tournament).”
Westfield opened with a 5-0 lead, thanks to an and-one from Arnold (9 points) with 3:10 remaining in the first quarter. One minute later, Sarah Mangels gave Amherst its first points with an and-one of its own. Alyssa Clark beat the buzzer for Westfield on a put-back after the Bombers were stuffed on several tries.
Jules Sharon owned the second quarter – making a two-pointer and drawing a foul (she missed the free throw) in the first 17 seconds and drilling a buzzer-beating 3 just before the half.
Amherst made its only basket of the third quarter in the opening minute, and Westfield went on a 10-0 run. Kayleigh Kennedy made a pair of 2-pointers, sandwiched around a Clark 3, Sydney Ezold, and free throw from Paton (8 points). The Bombers led 28-21 entering the fourth quarter, and never trailed again.
“They wanted to finish it,” coach Loos said of his focused Bombers squad. “For all intents and purposes, this was a tournament game.”
Westfield, six games under .500, now has its sights set on first- or second-place in the league – last night’s game was the Bombers’ first – to earn its way into the Western Massachusetts Division I girls’ basketball tournament. Teams can also qualify for the postseason with a .500 record or better.
Amherst’s Jamie Staples finished with a game-high 10 points.

Southwick 37, Putnam 36
Freshman Katelyn Silvia hit a 12-footer with 12 seconds left in the game to lift Southwick to a key road victory. Taylor LeClair scored 12 points for the Rams (6-5)

St. Mary 37, Dean Tech 23
Lindsay Hunter scored a game-high 10 points to lead St. Mary in one of its best efforts of the season. Karissa Foley (7 points, 11 rebounds) and Elizabeth Lincoln (4 points, 8 rebounds) also delivered for the Saints, who opened the game with a 10-2 run.

St. Mary 52, McCann Tech 49
Sam Thresher nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win it for St. Mary (8-3). Saints’ Matt Plasse (20 points) and Justin Crosby (19) reached double-digits scoring.

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