By Ryan Kaczmarski
In a game that could have been billed as “clash of the titans,” the Magnificat Blue Streaks turned the Westlake Demons into mere mortals on its way to a 64-53 victory, and a Division I district title Saturday afternoon at Elyria Catholic High School.
“We knew from the very beginning that it was going to be a great battle,” said Magnificat head coach Meghann Hubach. “Both teams played very, very hard. Certainly no one wanted to lose today, and we just kept fighting.”
Magnificat (20-4) started the game on a 7-0 run, on a couple of baskets by senior Helen Farnan and a 3-pointer by senior Page Wise, before the Demons could score its first bucket with 6:12 left in the first quarter. The Blue Streaks extended their lead to 14-6, before taking an 18-11 lead into the second act.
Westlake (20-4) made a second quarter push with an early six-point run, some key free throws by junior guard Liz Kobe, and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by senior Rachael Trujillo to cut into Magnificat’s lead, which was 32-27 going into halftime.
“We knew it was going to be possession by possession and we would make a run, then they would make a run,” Hubach said. “Hopefully, we would not turn the ball over and we would be able to sustain their (scoring) runs well enough, and put ourselves in position, in the end, to win the game.”
The Demons came out of the half and gave the Blue Streaks all they could muster, with junior Rachel Collins almost single-handedly getting Westlake back into the game by scoring eight third-quarter points.
“You know it’s too long of a game, and teams are always going come back to make a run at you,” Hubach said. “It’s a matter of how you sustain those runs (to get the victory).”
Westlake took a 46-45 lead on a Trujillo basket with 13.5 seconds left in the third quarter, before having their hearts ripped out by another Magnificat 3-pointer by Wise with 0.05 seconds left.
Magnificat added to the 48-46 third quarter lead with a seven-minute scoring run that drove the score to 58-46 and never looked back, taking the district championship 64-53.
“I thought that Westlake had a lot of nice 3-point shots,” Hubach said. “That one at the end of the first half was brutal. We were finally able to knock down one of those ourselves at the end of the third, and I think that definitely was a momentum swing and propelled us through much of the fourth quarter.”
Magnificat’s Stephanie Haas quietly put together a great day of scoring with 22 points, including five key fourth-quarter free throws, to lead the Blue Streaks. Wise followed with 19 points, Maddie Barry had 12 points, Megan Barilla scored seven and Helen Farnan scored four.
“We knew we had come out there (in the fourth quarter) and make a run,” Haas said. “There were runs all game, and we knew they were going to make one, we just had to contain it, and then go on a run of our own.
“Everyone shot tremendously,” she added. “Katie and Megan both shot with confidence, and knocked down some pretty important threes.”
To lead the Demons, Trujillo also scored 22 points, followed by Rachel Collins with 14, Kobe with eight, junior Maggie Zimmerman with five and senior Katie Carroll with four.
“We all prepared as much as we could,” Trujillo said. “This whole week, talking about Mags, and learning their offense, and how to defend it, I thought we did a good job. They’re good shooters, and we knew that going in (to the game).”
To hold Carroll to only four points was a tremendous feat by the Blue Streaks.
“She had no looks at all today,” said Demons head coach Chip Weiss. “They did a great job defending her inside.
“Unfortunately, we could not make the perimeter shots to loosen up (Magnificat’s defense) a little bit.”
Westlake will be losing four seniors, including three starters from this year’s squad.
“We’re going to be rebuilding,” Weiss said. “We have start from the beginning again, and try to do this all over.”
Magnificat started regional play last night against Wadsworth (21-3). The winner of that game will play the winner of the game between Notre Dame Academy (Toledo, 20-4) and Perrysburg (19-4) at Norwalk High School Saturday at noon.