WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield High School girls basketball head coach Liz McKeon knows what her team is capable of.
Even with a 6-5 record against some strong competition, she knows her team is headed in the right direction. The Lady Blue Devils are on a two-game winning streak following wins over Cranford and Northfield Mount Hermon (Mass.) over the past week.
“I am very proud of this team thus far,” McKeon said. “Our record doesn’t indicate how hard these ladies work and how tough they are. We might not win every game, but we are never going to give up or be out-hustled.”
Westfield has taken a team-first mentality through its opening set of games. The Union County group has seen a balanced attack on the offensive end.
“We pride ourselves on the team-first mentality,” McKeon added. “There is not one girl on this team who puts herself first. In order to be successful we know we need to play as a team and with that, it offers the chance for any player to step up on any given day, whether that is through defense, rebounding, assists, scoring or motivation. Every single girl is capable of stepping up.”
One of those players who have stepped up is sophomore Chloe Kreusser. Kreusser has been in double figures in six games and has also been strong as an all-around threat. Listed as a guard/forward, the sophomore has recorded 10 or more rebounds in three games. She has shown the ability to facilitate, get blocks and make steals.
Kresusser has 27 steals in 11 games, including a six-steal performance against rival Summit in a 64-57 victory on Jan. 7.
“Chloe has been a great leader for our team,” McKeon stated. “She really stepped up as a freshman last year so even though she’s only a sophomore, she’s someone the girls on the team look up to and someone the coaching staff relies on to be a leader. Her knowledge and game sense are things that don’t show up in the box score. Chloe brings it every day and is a huge asset to not only our team, but our program as a whole.”
There has been no shortage of challenges early on for Westfield. Against a daunting schedule against the likes of Elizabeth, Montgomery, Bayonne, West Morris, Summit, Chatham and Oak Knoll, the Blue Devils have been tested early and often.
Westfield battled against Hudson County’s Bayonne and only lost by five back in December. Bayonne is 13-2 and sits in the top-20 in the girls' basketball state rankings.
“The point of scheduling games against strong competition is so that we are ready to compete at any level come county and state tournament time,” McKeon said. “We have a young team, so these experiences early on are set to prepare us for the intensity of the end of the season.”
Other players who have made contributions for Westfield include senior guard Ali Lisanti, freshman guard Paige Gorczyca, freshman guard Annie Ryan, senior guard Caroline Dwyer, senior guard/forward Faith Dobosiewicz, junior guard Emma Pietrewicz and junior guard Charlotte Dursee.
With a young team, often the most important thing is just building that cohesiveness on the floor. McKeon believes consistency will come with time.
“The more this team plays together and continues to learn how to play with each other, the stronger they will become,” the coach said.
Westfield will look to keep its winning streak going with a home game against Roselle Catholic on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Blue Devils will then have upcoming games against Bloomfield and Newark Collegiate before opening February against Union Catholic.
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