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High school girls basketball: Westlake storms into 6A quarterfinals with suffocating defensive effort against Riverton

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Box Score

The game hadn’t even started, and already Westlake coach Michael O’Connor was making defensive adjustments.

As O’Connor watched Riverton warm up ahead of Thursday’s 6A second round game at Westlake High School, he noticed quickly how Riverton was making everything from behind the arc.

“They were lights out,” said O’Connor.

Westlake’s coach had been on the fence about what defense his team should play in the lead-up to the game, man or zone, but Riverton’s sharp shooting made that decision easy.

Westlake’s suffocating man defense around the perimeter and length in the interior were simply too much for No. 9 seed Riverton to deal with, as No. 8 seed Westlake rolled to the emphatic 42-21 victory.

“I watched them warm up, I’ve seen enough film and I just decided in warmups I’m not going to let them get a free look, so we decided to go man,” said O’Connor.

Riverton finished the game 1 of 16 from behind the 3-point line as every shot was hotly contested, and that one make came on an open 3-pointer with eight seconds left in the game.

Riverton finished the game with just five field goals on a difficult night offensively.

“We deflected balls, I think our length gave them a lot of trouble, we blocked a lot of shots,” said O’Connor. “I loved our defensive effort. Now the other part we have to be way better than that if we’re going to have a shot at Herriman.”

Westlake dealt with its own offensive struggles on Thursday, scoring just five points each in both the second and third quarters. Thanks to its strong defense, Westlake still managed to extend its lead to the offensive struggles, but that will never work against No. 1 seed Herriman in next Tuesday’s 6A quarterfinals.

Susan Fano led Westlake in scoring with 12 points on Thursday to go along with her seven rebounds. Kaylee Headrick added 11 points to go along with her five rebounds and five assists.

Both will have to be at their best in the next round against Herriman.

Herriman has the quickest and most dynamic backcourt in the state and it will score plenty. Westlake will need to cut down on its turnovers in the game and maximize each possession.

“The key is you can’t turn the ball over, and we have to do the same thing we did tonight, contest everything they do, don’t make things easy,” said O’Connor. “They’re going to try and turn you over and attack you on the dribble. They’re going to try and put pressure on the ball.”

Herriman beat Westlake by 18 in a preseason game back in December at the Beetdigger Classic.