Hamilton County Reporter Sports Editor
The young Westfield girls baskteball team of last season has certainly grown up
The Shamrocks showed toughness and poise in their game with Fishers Friday night
at The Rock. Westfield made a buzzerbeating putback to send the contest into
overtime, then was solid from the free-throw line in the extra period to score a 66-60 win
over the Tigers.
With the win, the ‘Rocks are now 4-1. Fishers came into Westfield with a fivegame
win streak, and the Tigers are still 5-2 for the season.
“It is a big win,” said Westfield coach Ginny Smith. “Fishers is a good basketball
team. I really feel like they’re playing like they’re inspired by something. I feel like
every game I’ve watched of them, they just play so hard, with so much fight in them.
They’re actually a fun basketball team to watch.”
The Shamrocks are good, too. This was the kind of game that might not have gone
Westfield’s way last year, when it dropped three of four overtime games.
“It’s huge for us, and especially being able to win in overtime,” said Smith. “I think
that was almost one of our crutches last year. I felt like we were so inexperienced and then
we couldn’t win down the stretch in some games. For these kids, maybe it’s just a little
glimpse of what it feels like when you’ve maybe got over the hump.”
Westfield trailed 52-47 with 49.9 seconds left in regulation. The Tigers had
just finished a 7-0 run, all thanks to their superstar senior Toni Grace, who had scored
34 points and counting at that time.
The ‘Rocks got within 53-51 with 8.6 seconds left, with Jade Shipley draining a
couple free throws and Sophia Kreag making a layin. Westfield got the ball for a
last shot, and Karley Wininger scooped up a miss and laid it in at the buzzer.
Kreag made a layin early in the overtime to give the Shamrocks the lead for good at
56-55. From there, Westfield earned the remainder of its points from the line. The
‘Rocks made 11 of 14 foul shots in the extra period, while only allowing the Tigers six
trips to the line. Fishers was 5-of-6 from there in the overtime.
Smith said the strategy during the overtime was to spread the floor.
“We got away from our motion offense and just ran a five-out,” said Smith. “I had
five guards in the game.” The ‘Rocks also came up with some big rebounds during the
extra period from Kreag and Ashtin DeCraene; Smith called those “pivotal
points” in the game.
Westfield came to play from the start. Grace got Fishers up 5-0 right away with a
pair of free throws and a 3-pointer, and the Tigers led 7-3 with 5:49 left in the first
quarter after Grace made two more foul shots.
But the ‘Rocks then blasted off on a 16-0 run that lasted well into the second period.
Jade Shipley scored six points in the midst of that run, including a 3-pointer. Ryann
Bunting helped out with a first-quarter putback and a basket off a steal in the second
Fishers began to work its way back into the game in the second period. Kenedi
London was huge, scoring seven points during that quarter. The Tigers got within
23-21 late in the period, but Shipley drained another 3 to give Westfield a 29-23 halftime
“I thought we responded,” said Tigers coach Lauren Vail. “We went through a little
lull there in the first half. I challenged them to step up and to fight back prior to halftime,
and I thought they did just that. I thought they battled hard.
“Man, I got to give credit to Westfield, though,” said Vail. “I watched them play
Pendleton Heights and they were down a lot in that game and fought all the way back and
they couldn’t pull that one out. And today, they just never gave up. They just never
Grace took over again in the third quarter, pouring in 11 points, including two
3-pointers. Tamia Perryman pushed Fishers ahead 35-34 with a rebound basket; Kreag’s
jumper gave Westfield the lead back, but another triple by Grace got the Tigers in
front 38-36. London rolled in a basket to give Fishers a 40-36 lead at the end of three.
Grace scored all 13 of Fishers’ points in the fourth quarter. She finished the game
with 37 points.
“That was an incredible performance of her,” said Vail. “I was so proud of her
because she played under control. She let the game come to her and she hit some huge
shots. That’s the kind of player I know that kid can be.”
Grace also led the Fishers rebounding with six boards. Perryman and Briana
McGee both had five.
Shipley finished with 22 points for the ‘Rocks, including an 11-of-13 performance
from the line. Kreag scored 10 points. Annabelle O’Hair had eight rebounds, with
Kreag getting five.
Westfield is back in action this afternoon, taking on Kokomo at The Rock
in a 1:30 p.m. varsity tipoff. Fishers returns to the Tiger Den on Tuesday to take on