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Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

Varsity Basketball Suffers Heartbreaking Loss to McNeil

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  • Eyes on the prize Claire Lee ’26 crashes to the basket to make a basket. Lee was a huge part of the Lady Warriors offense and scored multiple baskets throughout the game.

  • Huddling together as a group, the Varsity Girls Basketball team gather around Emily Collins ’24. The team had made posters for Collins celebrating her Senior Night.

  • On the court, Emily Collins ’24 stands with her family members during Senior Night. Collins is a four-year player in the Westwood Basketball system who made her name at the three point line, and cemented herself as a true Warrior.

  • Eyes on the ball, Isabella D’Alessandro ’25 prepares to defend against McNeil’s offense. As the captain D’Alessandro commanded the court, giving orders to her fellow teammates and setting up offensive plays.

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On Friday, Feb. 2, varsity women’s basketball faced their rivals, the McNeil Mavericks in their last home game of the season. Throughout the game the Lady Warriors displayed their defensive prowess and defensive game plan to press their opponents, giving a plethora of pressure on the ball. Though it was a close game, and the Lady Warriors made a run for the win in the end, it was too late, losing by two points.

“The game plan from the beginning was to zone press, with a goal to keep number four under a certain amount of points, and to give lots of ball pressure,” Head Coach Kelli Payton said. “If we go down to just claw our way back, and if we get up just to maintain it, and untimely to just play really hard.”

Before the game started, the Lady Warriors celebrated senior night and showed their appreciation for Emily Collins ‘24 who is the only senior in the entire women’s basketball program. The festivities included speeches from past and current coaches, and a video of interviews from her fellow teammates showcasing her essence on the team, showing her persistence and value to the group.

Following the tip-off, the Lady Warriors focused on their strong defense and blocking. Within the first few minutes of the quarter, a Collins free throw put the Lady Warriors on the board. Vivian Hapka ‘26 rebounded with a put-back shot leading to a free throw. With the quarter coming to an end, Collins went downhill for a contested layup giving the Lady Warriors two points. With strong lockdown defense Theresa Bell ‘26 led the team to a turnover. Ending the quarter strong, Collins made both of her free throws giving the team four points and placing the Lady Warriors in the lead.

Claire Lee ‘26 shot a clean long two-point-play, starting the second quarter on the right foot. Lee then went on to make a three-point-shot, assisting Ava Sartor ‘25 in making a basket. Following this, Sartor took a charge resulting in an offensive foul for the Mavericks, giving the Lady Warriors possession. Captain Isabella D’Alessandro ‘25 landed a two-pointer, and a freethrow, giving the Lady Warriors three more points, while also putting them further in the lead. Ending the first half of the game on a high note, the Lady Warriors were up by seven with a score of 23-16.

Coming back for the third quarter the Lady Warriors struggled on offense and the Mavericks quick offense. Taylor Thiemer ‘25 went on to sink a three-point-shot within the last couple minutes of the quarter, giving the Lady Warriors some life. While the Lady Warriors began to build momentum, it wasn’t enough to compete with the Mavericks’ consistent intensity ending the quarter 37-28.

With the game coming to an end, and the Lady Warriors down by nine the team tried to climb their way back up. Starting off the Lady Warrior’s comeback, D’Alessandro drove to the baseline for an open two-pointer. Hapka followed with a put back shot and an immediate steal. Within the last five minutes of the quarter the Lady Warriors regained their strong offense and defense, stopping the Mavericks and minimizing the gap between the two teams. Within the last 30 seconds of the game Thiemer made a three-pointer giving the Lady Warriors hope to tie the game, hopefully leading to overtime. As the tension rose with only two-tenths of a second left in the quarter the Lady Warriors were fouled, leading to a free throw by D’Alessandro, matching the Mavericks score of 49. As the Lady Warriors began to celebrate the tie, McNeil started to shoot free throws of their own. With the whole gym confused, the referees explained that there was a technical foul made on the Lady Warriors resulting in a free throw for McNeil. The Mavericks went on to make both free throws ending the game in heartbreak for the Warriors with a score of 51-49.

“I think [the most intense point of the game] was when they called the fifth foul on me and it was very overwhelming and very stressful,” Collins said. “For the team I think in general was definitely when Bella was able to hit her last two free throws which was really close for us.”

The Lady Warriors will return to the court Tuesday, Feb. 6, against Stony Point for their last game of the season.

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About the Contributors
Maddy Yendle
Maddy Yendle, Reporter
Class of 2026 I have always had a passion for writing and poetry, which is one of the reasons that I am elated to be a part of Student Press this year. Other activities I love are art, rewatching Gilmore Girls, listening to music, and reading.
Jessica Wang
Jessica Wang, Heritage Section Editor
Class of 2024 I’ve always pursued creative expression in my day-to-day life, whether it be painting, photography, or music. Although writing has never been my strong point, it’s grown to be one of my favorite creative outlets, which is why I’m excited to be working on Student Press this year. When I’m not staring at my homework in a daze, I also enjoy listening to music, particularly indie pop, and reading. 

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