WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield High School girls varsity basketball player Sam Stravach had 12 points and five rebounds in Tuesday’s game against Roselle Catholic, helping her team win 42-35 and avenge their opening-day loss.

“We were down by one late in the fourth quarter and Sam hit both free throws on a one and one to put us up by one and we never looked back,” head coach Liz McKeon said. “She also did a great job shutting down their leading scorer — 17 points per game — and held her to six points, her lowest output of the season.”

This week’s Ron Bansky and Associates Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week has made a huge impact since stepping into the starting lineup this season, according to McKeon.

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“We lost one of our starters the first quarter on our first game this season, so Sam was not only forced to make an impact as a starter — now she had to step up for the player we lost to injury,” the coach said.

A junior, Stravach’s stats have more than tripled from last year, McKeon said.

“But more than that,” she said, “she’s a great person. Sam listens to the coaches and her teammates. She wants to get better every day and it shows by her work ethic and positive attitude.”

Stravach said she started playing basketball around the time of first grade.

“My street had a bunch of kids on it and one of my neighbors had a hoop, so we would always play after school,” she said. “I love the fast pace of the game. You’re able to make a mistake and then you just have to move on and keep playing. I also love the team aspect of the game. Even if you’re not the one putting up points, everyone is contributing in one way or another.”

She sees her brothers as role models.

“Growing up, they would always drag me to shoot around or play one versus one and they would never let me win,” Stravach said. “My oldest brother, Mike, taught me almost everything I know about basketball and his passion for the game was what really got me playing to begin with.”

Stravach dreams of working for ESPN one day.

“I love football and basketball and I hope that one day I can be a sports analyst,” she said.

Stravach said that she has faith in the Lady Blue Devils going forward this season.

“We haven’t even reached our full potential yet and we won’t rest until we finally beat The Patrick School and bring home a county title,” she said.

“Sam is a huge asset to this team and the girls basketball program,” coach McKeon added. “We can't wait to see what the rest of the season as in store for her.”