Out of the frying pan and into the fire go the Lady Warriors of Westview when they travel to Rochester this Saturday for 2A girls basketball regional play.
After winning three hard-fought decisions in the Central Noble sectional last week, coach Randy Yoder’s 15-8 squad now must face perennial girls hoops power Fort Wayne Luers in the opening contest of the regional at 10:30 a.m. The 12-11 Lady Knights, who last year made it all the way to the 2A state championship game before losing to Evansville Mater Dei, routed South Adams, 54-13 in the finals of the Bluffton sectional last Saturday, a contest in which they led, 34-0 at halftime.
“It’s going to be a challenge for our young team,” said Yoder. “Luers is an athletic team that reminds me a lot of Angola. We’ll have to play our best game of the year in order to compete with them.”
The top two players for Luers a year ago – 6-0 center Miracle Woods and 5-11 forward Brooke Ridley – graduated last spring. Three holdovers from that squad are junior twins Allison and Erin Butler, and classmate Addie Reimbold. Allison Butler is averaging 10.7 points and 5.8 assists a game, while Erin Butler nets 7.6 markers a tilt and leads the Lady Knights in three-pointers with 49. Reimbold scores 9.7 points and grabs a team-best 8.1 rebounds a contest.
“The Butler twins are a big key to their offense,” cited Yoder. “Allison is the quarterback of the team and likes to drive into the lane and either finish or kick it out to Erin for a three-pointer. We have to be able to stay in front of Allison and not gamble as much on defense.”
The top scorer for Luers is 5-11 freshman center Tashayla Sutorius, who tallies 12.3 points and snares 5.7 boards per game. “She is a very athletic post player. We may have to double her occasionally when she gets the ball.”
Two more freshmen -- 5-8 guards Emma Wolfe and Taya Andrews – carry scoring averages of 8.3 and 5.7 points, respectively for the Lady Knights.
“They are a lot like us in that they are balanced on offense and play several freshmen,” said Yoder.
Due to its daunting schedule, Luers normally does not take an impressive record into the state tournament and this year is no exception. Of their 11 losses, nine came against teams that won sectional titles last week and a 10th was a two-point setback to Angola in the season-opener.
“Their record is very deceiving,” Yoder said. “They have the potential to blow out any team in the regional, including us if we don’t make them earn every point. Maybe we can catch them looking past us.”
Freshmen Maria McCoy and Grace Hales, and junior Brooke Yoder spearhead the Lady Warrior attack. McCoy, a 6-1 center, leads the club in scoring average at 11.9. Hales comes in with a 10.0 clip and Yoder, whose five, three-point baskets and 18 points led Westview in its 46-32 sectional finals win over LaVille, is putting in 9.7 markers a tilt.
“We did not shoot very well in the sectional, so hopefully we can have a breakout game against Luers,” said Yoder. “I’m sure Luers has watched tape of our games lately where teams have consistently double-teamed Maria (McCoy) in the post and I expect them to do the same. Our perimeter players will have to step up and hit some shots and get the ball into Maria when we have the opportunity.”
With just one senior (5-7 forward Olivia Miller) on the roster, many thought this would be a building year for the Lady Warriors. “I thought we were a year away,” admitted Yoder. “But about eight games into the season, with the way the girls were playing, there was talk of winning the sectional this year and we started making that a priority a lot earlier than usual. You never know when these opportunities are going to come along.”
The winner of the Westview-Luers battle will advance to the regional final Saturday night (8 p.m.) and tangle with either Boone Grove (17-6) or Whiting (20-3), who meet in the second semifinal. The two met back on December 22 with Whiting pulling out a 61-55 overtime triumph.
Whiting, making its first regional appearance in nine years, is led by 5-5 junior guard Citlali Lopez, 5-9 junior guard Brianna Blackwell, 5-6 senior guard Abby Bondi and 5-9 senior forward Lauren Markovich. Lopez tallied 21 points and Blackwell 16 in the Lady Oilers’ 65-48 victory over Hammond Noll in the title game of the River Forest sectional.
Seniors Claudia Cooper and Paige Aguilera are the top two players for Boone Grove. Aguilera, a 5-10 forward, netted 10 points in the Lady Wolves’ 38-36 victory over Rochester in the finals of the Hebron sectional. Cooper, a 5-11 forward/center, tallied 13 points and blocked a last-second shot by Rochester ace Breanne Paulik to preserve the two-point win and propel Boone Grove to its first regional appearance since 2008.
The winner of the Rochester regional will play the survivor of the Lapel regional in the semi-state round scheduled for Saturday, February 23. The game will either be played at Crown Point or Warsaw