by Zoe Radar
The girls’ basketball team maintained its early-season success last Thursday after conquering Cranford, 51–32, at Cranford High School. Although Cranford had a strong start, Westfield picked up its speed and intensity going into the second quarter and stayed consistent throughout the game.
The game reflected the passionate and diligent season the team has been having so far. Coach Liz McKeon equates this unstoppable energy to the girls’ unity and confidence on and off the court. “We lost a lot of tough games last year,” she said. “This year we are turning those losses into wins. The girls stay calm and believe in themselves even if they start losing by a large margin.”
The team might be small with a four-guard offensive lineup, but the Blue Devils’ harmony and all-around skills turn this potential weakness into an advantage. They work together as one dynamic machine, fluidly moving up the court and staying strong on defense.
Senior guard Danielle Rinaldi is a huge offensive threat with her keen passes, misleading fakes and unrelenting agility. With senior forward Shannon Devitt’s high-level skills and junior guard Molly Ryan’s aggressive finishes, the team is incredibly agile on offense.
Rinaldi said the team’s offense is especially strong. “It allows us to run the floor and also have a big threat on the outside while Shannon makes a statement inside,” she added.
Devitt scored 18 points in the game, while junior guard Grace Elliott scored 13. After Elliott tied the game at 4:02 in the second quarter, the Devils went on a 9–0 run to close out the first half with Devitt and Elliott scoring most of the points.
Cranford did not back down, however, as the Cougars utilized a few key offensive powers, including junior Camryn Wichelns (7 points), to inch closer to a tied game. But Westfield did not become discouraged by relentless Cranford offense as evidenced by the 40–27 score at the end of the third quarter. Westfield dominated the last half of the fourth quarter with a 6–0 run in the last 4 minutes to secure its sixth win of the season.
The Blue Devils are ecstatic about their record (as of press time, they were 6–1) and they understand it isn’t credited to one single player.
“Being one unit, instead of individual players is a big thing for us this year,” Rinaldi said. “When one person isn’t playing well we can pick them up...so the other team can’t just guard one person and shut us down.”
Ryan agreed, saying, “I can’t accomplish anything without my team.”
The girls basketball team will take on Roselle Catholic this Tuesday at 4 p.m. at WHS and hopes to continue its winning record as the Blue Devils start to think about county and state tournaments.
“As long as we keep doing what we are doing, we will have a successful season,” McKeon said.