The Westlake Academy girls basketball team reached the state championship match for the fifth time in seven years last Saturday, defeating Nazarene Christian Academy to once again claim the top prize.
The Lady Blacksmiths have developed a reputation for excellence, but coach Nick Barrows said he was not so sure when the season started whether his team would competing for another state title.
“I feel like in November and December, we under performed quite a bit,” Barrows said. “We had a very tough schedule this year; definitely the hardest I’ve ever made. It seems like we haven’t played our best until the last three or four weeks.
“Early in the season, individual players had good games, but we didn’t have great games all together as a team. We had a big win against Pantego in early December. We also had a great team game against Keller Timber Creek that we lost in the fourth quarter.”
The Lady Blacksmiths defeated Nazarene Christian by a score of 44-41 and the boys team defeated Nazarene by a score of 63-49 on the same day to make it two titles in a day for Westlake Academy. Visit kellercitizen.com next week for a feature on the boys.
“It was a special night,” Barrows said.
The Westlake Academy girls have won state championships in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017.
Barrows attributes his team’s success to a couple of factors.
“We’re serious about what we do with teamwork and individual skills, but it’s also very fun,” Barrows said. “We have a great time during the season. I think when a program has success, some of that is passed on to the teams that come after them. That’s the tradition part.
“As an alumni, when you come back to watch a game, you want to see the program that you played and doing better. You want to see that program grow and you can take pride in the fact that you helped build that.”
Barrows said he hopes his players take away an important lesson from this season.
“I believe basketball is a tool that is used to help students be well-rounded and flexible,” Barrows said. “Players learn how to win, how to lose, how to be successful and how to make mistakes. They learn how to respect their opponents.
“There’s a very large number of business professionals, entrepreneurs [and] CEOs that played team sports in school. I hope their takeaway is that you can accomplish more as a team then you can as an individual.”
Lauren Cortinas, Cassie Stoltenberg, Hunter Barnard, Rina Mitchell, Grace Rennhack, Kaylee Hamilton, Riley Timmerman, Brooke Jones, Brynn Jones and Sydney McQuietor made up the 2016-2017 Westlake girls basketball team.