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High school girls basketball: Defense keys Lone Peak to a 46-39 win over Westlake

The Knights’ press caused all sorts of trouble for the visiting Thunder on Friday.

HIGHLAND — Lone Peak was able to gather itself effectively and fight through a period of ugly play to get by Westlake on Friday, 46-39.

Once again, it was freshman Kailey Woolston leading the way for the Knights, scoring a team-high 17 points while getting her team off to an early 14-0 run and a 14-5 lead late in the first quarter. Woolston was particularly effective from 3-point range, making true on two buckets behind the arc during the run.

“We had a good start and Kailey — she’s just playing great for us,” said Lone Peak coach Nancy Warner.

But as effective as Woolston was early, she took a back seat to the Knights’ suffocating full-court press. Following every made basket, Warner’s team disrupted just about every attempt the Thunder made just to get the ball past midcourt, forcing all sorts of turnovers, most of which the Knights turned into points.

“We’re a pressing team, and picking up a few steals really got us off strong,” Warner said.

Westlake did adjust, however, and led by Susan Fano, who finished with a game-high 18 points, made a game of it. Fano scored 15 of her team’s 20 points in the first half, with the Knights entering the break up just 23-20.

“Westlake is a very, very good team that is well-coached,” Warner said. “We knew they’d adjust and they really tested us, but fortunately we were able to respond.”

Westlake finally took the lead back early in the third quarter at 25-24 off a basket by Halle Hester. But that lead proved short-lived with Lone Peak scoring a 10-0 run into the fourth quarter to take back the lead at 34-25.

“We got out of rhythm but learned to settle in and get back to playing defense,” Warner said. “Westlake is very good defensively, and we needed to step it up with our defensive effort, and once we did, that helped out get back into a good rhythm.”

The Thunder never seriously challenged down the stretch, although it did enough to keep it close and Warner’s team on its heels until the final buzzer.

For the game, Lone Peak forced 19 turnovers while turning it over just 10 times itself, a type of margin which has been common in a lot of Lone Peak wins this season. With the win, the Knights improve to 13-4 overall and 6-0 in Region 4 play. Westlake drops to 15-3 overall and 3-3 in Region 4 play, with the loss.

“It’s all about setting a tone for us on defense. That’s when we’re at our best,” Warner said of her team’s success this season. “The team has learned to believe in one another and yeah, it’s all about defense for us, and hopefully we can keep it up.”