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Girls basketball: Westminster Christian wins sectional title

Westminster Christian's Liz Meschewski carries injured teammate Kinsley Donahue so she can receive piece net cut down after Warriors defeated

Westminster Christian's Liz Meschewski carries injured teammate Kinsley Donahue so she can receive a piece of the net cut down after the Warriors defeated Morgan Park Academy for a sectional title Thursday in Elgin. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 14, 2013 10:56PM

Westminster Christian set the tone early with its defense and put together a dominant performance on the way to a 45-28 victory over Morgan Park Academy to claim the Class 1A Westminster Christian Sectional title.

The Warriors (26-4) advance to Monday’s DeKalb Supersectional where they will square off against Freeport Aquin.

Using their full-court pressure defense, Westminster forced Morgan Park into 11 first-quarter turnovers, and the Warriors turned those takeaways into easy buckets on their way to a 17-6 lead.

“Our goal is always to be aggressive, come out strong in our press, pressure the ball and just get steals right off the bat,” said junior guard McKaila Hays.

The defense didn’t let up from there either, forcing eight more turnovers in the second quarter en route to building a commanding 30-12 lead heading into the break.

“Once we get into a rhythm, that’s when we get excited and push it and get pumped up as a team,” said freshman Maddie Versluys.

With the game in hand, Westminster seemed to look ahead and let up a bit in the second half, and was outscored 16-15 over the final two quarters. But they still came away with the big win.

“As the game went on and the end got closer, I think we started to think about it too much instead of just playing basketball,” said Westminster coach Ken Flickinger.

“Our defense always seems to carry us though, and we did a nice job getting the ball inside and running the floor when we had a chance to, so overall I’m pretty pleased. I’s a historic thing for the school.”

With the win, Westminster avenged a sectional title game loss from a year ago, when it dropped a heart-breaker to Seton Academy. That previous postseason experience has paid dividends for Westminster this time around.

“The nerves weren’t all gone, but the nerves were familiar this time around so that made it easier,” said Hays.

For the game, Westminster shot an impressive 21-of-37 (56.8 percent), as it consistently made the extra pass to set up easy buckets.

Versluys led the way with 17 points on an efficient 8-of-10 shooting from the field. Hays added six points and six assists.

On the other side, Morgan Park was held to just 12-of-34 (35.3 percent) shooting on the night. Brittany McKnight led the team with nine points, while Isabelle Panozzo chipped in eight points and seven rebounds.

It’ll be a tough road ahead for Westminster, but if the Warriors play anything like they did in the first half on Thursday night, they should be up to the task.

“We’ve got tape on everybody so we’ll start digging into it tomorrow night,” said Flickinger. “I’m looking forward to it, whoever we play is going to be a great basketball team and that’s what we’ve worked for, is to get to that moment.”

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