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Westport squeaks past Orange for MVAC title

CROWN POINT - The undefeated Eagles claimed the MVAC girls basketball championship Feb. 19, but not without having to overcome their toughest challenge yet in Indian Lake/Long Lake.

"It was a battle," said Westport head coach Hokey McKinley. "Both teams played really hard and didn't make it very easy to score."

Early on, at least, the Orange showed their formidability in a highly defensive contest, outscoring Westport 7-4 in the first quarter.

But the Eagles came back with a 10-2 run in the second, sparked by Christina Sherman, who scored six of her nine points during the quarter and played excellent defense as filling in for the injured Willa McKinley at point guard. She also finished with four assists.

Kalika Hopkins scored 11 points to lead Westport and Martha McKinley chipped in nine points and 13 rebounds. Coach McKinley said his team's effort was very balanced.

"Even if they might not have scored, they still played good defense and did all the little things you need to do to help your team win," he said.

Still, Westport's 31-27 win over the Orange was their lowest scoring and closest game so far this season, having downed all their previous opponents by at least 15 points.

"I have to give them credit, they played good defense" said McKinley. "[Indian Lake/Long Lake] defended us hard."

Meanwhile, Indian Lake/Long Lake scoring threat Carli Reynolds bucketed 14 points, 12 of them in the second half, and teammate Liz Hamden shot and passed well with dribble penetration.

"She made a lot of things happen," Indian Lake/Long Lake coach John Reynolds said of Hamden. "She created a lot of good looks for us."

But Westport's team defense proved to be just as effective, challenging the Orange shooters throughout the game.

"We had some good looks down the stretch, but couldn't convert," said Reynolds. "Credit that somewhat to Westport's defense; they put an awful lot of pressure on us."

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