WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield High School girls basketball team added another win to their record, now 8-0, after defeating Oak Knoll 42-32 Thursday with a victory that only became decisive near the end.
Jackie Knapp led Westfield’s offense with 19 points, as did Catherine Bonner for Oak Knoll. Lillian Scott contributed 13 points for Westfield, as well.
The Blue Devils’ defense started out strong, wasting no time to steal the ball back after Oak Knoll won the jump. Westfield ran their offense, opening up an opportunity for Knapp to drive to the basket for a layup, putting Westfield up 2-0. But their lead was soon taken by the Royals, who added seven points to the board, making the score 7-2.
With an aggressive defense, the Blue Devils were able to tie the game 7-7, and the intensity picked up. Knapp banked a three, giving the lead back to Westfield, 10-7.
Bonner contributed four of the six points that would put the Royals ahead 14-10.
“We allowed them to get second and third chance shots when we need to make sure we limit them to one,” said Knapp. “Our boxing out, however, did improve in the second half.”
Westfield had their seventh team foul two minutes into the second quarter, giving Oak Knoll the bonus, and putting the Blue Devils at a disadvantage. But the real trouble they faced was Bonner, who hit six of the eight points, which put the Royals up at the half 22-18 while Westfield struggled to keep up.
“Our game plan was to slow down and slow number 30 down, because she was the one getting all their points,” said Westfield Coach Joseph Marino.
In the second half, Oak Knoll took off once again 29-22 and the Royals were gaining momentum.
Knapp hit another three and added two more points on a fast break with the assist from teammate Olivia Luzzi. The intensity and pace of the game picked up right away, as Westfield was only down by two with Knapp headed to the line. Knapp put in a basket making it a one-point game 29-28.
Westfield got control of the ball and Lillian Scott made a layup to give the Blue Devils their first lead since the before half, with Knapp adding two more points to the board, making the score 32-29 to end the third quarter.
“We kept our composure. We had to keep our cool we knew that things would turn our way eventually. Our girls, they know what they can do. It was a matter of getting back into the rhythm,” said Marino.
With the Blue Devils up 35-29, Scott and Luzzi each added two more points to the board putting Westfield up by 10.
“We made some silly mistakes and were out of place a few times on the press, but the team came together and got back on track. Teamwork won the game for us today,” said Knapp.
Oak Knoll continued to struggle, hitting shots and defending the fast-paced Westfield offense, allowing Scott to score on a fast break. Knapp was sent to the line a few minutes later to put one more point up.
“We weren’t able to score in the second half. They put that press on and they got a lot of steals off of it,” said Oak Knoll Coach Katie Cummings. “We’re a really young team and I am very proud of them. I mean, Westfield’s undefeated and we were with them for the entire game.”
The Royals managed to add three points to the board within the last few minutes of the game, but couldn’t stop the Blue Devils from pulling off the win.
Westfield will face Dayton Friday at 7 p.m. at Westfield High School.