The Westbrook girls basketball team has a slew of underclassmen in their ranks, including four freshman and four sophomores. Despite their youth, the Lady Blazes are rapidly improving as they gain experience.

Coach Mike Murphy’s squad toppled Scarborough, 45-34, on the road Saturday, one day after a fourth-quarter comeback victory over Thornton Academy, and now Westbrook (5-11) has won three of their last four.

“Our kids played with a lot of composure for being so young,” said Blazes coach Mike Murphy. “We had two freshman and two sophomores out there who did a great job of handling the pressure and handling the whole situation.”

The contest began as a defensive struggle with each team keeping the other from getting good looks at the basket. Scarborough (5-9) attempted to make up for their size disadvantage by playing a 2-3 zone to keep the ball out of the hands of Audrey Shutts and Cynthia Wescott, forcing Westbrook to take the outside shot.

Blazes guards Lauren Sawyer and Erin Murphy responded by knocking down a couple of jumpers late in the period, including a three-pointer from Sawyer with 3:08 remaining.

“I thought the kids played tremendous defense and made Scarborough work hard for all their points,” said coach Murphy. “They did a great job in picking up rebounds so we could get those second and third shots.”

Five of Scarborough’s seven first quarter points came from the free throw line. Sarah Bonenfant was the main contributor early for the Red Storm, sinking five of her nine points on the night in the first quarter. Blazes’ captain Brittany Symbol provided some well-needed momentum for her team by sinking and 18-footer at the buzzer to put Westbrook ahead 9-7 going into the second.

“We had some great minutes tonight from our only senior, Brittany Symbol. She provided a spark for us offensively and she’s really stepped up the past couple of weeks,” said Murphy.

Symbol’s spark was more like a fire that ignited the Lady Blazes as they came out to begin the second quarter. Murphy and Symbol quickly rained in a couple of mid-range buckets, followed up by an old-fashioned three-point play from Wescott to give the visitors an 18-11 lead. Junior forward Jasmin White added to the surge with consecutive blocks.

The Red Storm did their best to stay in the game. Bonenfant converted a couple of steals into baskets late in the half; however, the momentum remained with Westbrook as each squad headed into their respective locker rooms for the intermission; Blue Blazes leading, 22-18.

The second half picked up where the first had left off: with Westbrook on a tear, pulling away from the Red Storm and not looking back. As time expired in the third, Westbrook lead by 10, and the ladies in blue continued to dominate the boards. Scarborough did not have an answer for the combined efforts of Shutts and Wescott, who ended the night with eight and five points respectively. Shutts also finished with numerous blocks and rebounds.

“Erin Murphy, Emily Wight and Jalissa Bryant have grown up so much in these past 16 games. They played eighth-grade basketball last year and now they’re out there against juniors and seniors in high school, and they’re handling themselves quite well,” said Murphy. “Then you look at Audrey Shutts who played a ton of minutes last year (as a freshman), and it shows by her performance tonight.”

Coming off a one-win season, the Lady Blazes are currently in the 12th spot in the latest Heal point standings. The top 11 teams qualify for the post-season. With a little luck, Westbrook could find themselves in a preliminary playoff game, but even if they fall short, things are in place for the next few years.

“The future is looking pretty bright,” Murphy said.


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