Westgate, defense powers Oak Hill to victory over Heritage in Sectional 23 opener

In their first foray into Class 3A playoff basketball under Head Coach Todd Law, the Oak Hill Golden Eagles, behind a strong, all-around performance on both ends of the floor, started their playoff run with an impressive victory.

Taylor Westgate predictably played stellar basketball, recording a double-double, the defense was sturdy throughout the contest, and the Golden Eagles punched their ticket to the Sectional 23 semifinals with a 45-33 triumph over the Heritage Patriots on Wednesday evening. 

Oak Hill kept a stout Heritage offense under wraps from start to finish. While Bree Dossen, an Indiana Tech commit, scored 20 points, the Golden Eagles did not make it easy, holding the Patriots’ star to just nine-of-20 from the floor. 

“She’s a very nice player,” Law said of Dossen. “She can shoot from the perimeter, but she [also] goes so well to the basket. We were really trying to take the right side away from her, and for the most part, we got that accomplished.”

Even more notable, Oak Hill held Abby Sheehan, Heritage’s second leading scorer and one of their best three-point shooters, without a point. 

“Coming in, she was the best percentage three-point shooter we’ve seen all year. She shot 141 threes, and she got one shot off tonight,” Law said. “We were trying to faceguard her, and when you are face-guarding a perimeter player, it’s going to give some things up inside, but I thought our girls were scrambling pretty well and doing the best they could to clean things up inside.” 

Westgate, who has played some tremendous basketball in the past two weeks, was dominant on both ends of the floor. She finished the contest with a game-high 22 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists, while also recording two steals on defense. 

“She missed the first couple little bunnies inside and then she picked up a quick foul, [but] she’s a smart player,” Law said. “She was able to get through that first half and then was freer to play in the second half defensively.” 

Oak Hill’s offense, as a whole, was crisp, as the team shot 46 percent (19-of-41) from the field.

“[Our] offensive execution was excellent,” Law said. “We had 19 made field goals and 15 assists. We shared the ball well. We found the open girl, and had some patience.”

Kate Hornocker started the scoring with a basket inside the paint, giving the Golden Eagles a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way. Heritage tied it up twice at 4-4 and 6-6, but a 10-2 run for the Golden Eagles gave them a 16-10 first quarter lead. Westgate started the rally with seven straight points, and later, Abby Shaw capped off the scoring surge with a triple. Defensively, Oak Hill forced five Heritage turnovers. 

Oak Hill’s defense clamped down even more in the second quarter, allowing just six points and forcing three more Patriot giveaways. Carlee Biddle began the frame with a trey, and buckets from Westgate, Audrey Leak, and Hornocker put the Golden Eagles up 25-16 at the halftime break. 

Heritage’s best push came in the third quarter. After a Westgate field goal pushed the Oak Hill advantage to 11, seven straight points from the Patriots, including five points from Dossen, cut the Golden Eagles’ edge to four. 

But the Oak Hill defense quickly solidified, allowing just two points the rest of the quarter. Offensively, five more points from Westgate, including a triple from the top of the key, pushed the Golden Eagles’ advantage back out to nine heading into the final frame. 

Oak Hill carried that momentum into the final quarter, never trailing by any less than seven points in the last eight minutes. Two Hornocker free throws and a three from Shaw increased the Golden Eagles’ lead to 10, and in the final 4:52, Heritage scored just two points.

“That was the key,” Law said. “Every timeout in the fourth quarter, I just kept saying, ‘Defend and rebound, defend and rebound.’ When you can do that, you can be more patient on the offensive end and take some time off before you have to take a shot.” 

Westgate added six more points in the quarter, as the team did a marvelous job of creating looks for her in the paint. The Golden Eagles led by as many as 14 points before settling for the 12-point triumph. 

Hornocker and Shaw each provided solid secondary scoring, finishing with eight points apiece, while Biddle, Leak, and Coleena Selleck each added a field goal apiece. 

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