Friday, Dec. 10, was an example of how far the Zionsville girls’ basketball program has come in a very short time.
Last season, Westfield defeated Zionsville twice by a total of 47 points, including a convincing 23-point sectional triumph.
The Shamrocks came to Zionsville Friday with a 7-1 record, but the host Eagles made them earn their eighth victory on the season.
Zionsville held a one-point lead late in the third quarter, but could not muster enough offense in the final period to earn the upset. Westfield had just enough to notch a 37-34 Hoosier Crossroads Conference victory over the improving Eagles.
“They’re 8-1, 4-1 in the conference and a very good basketball team,” Zionsville coach Andy Maguire said. “We’ve grown so much in the last three weeks and you’ve seen it. Everybody gave us good minutes again. We still had some silly turnovers and missed some shots but in terms of our growth I am really pleased.”
Zionsville appeared ready for the upset from the beginning, opening things with a 14-12 lead after one period. Then the game became a defensive struggle.
A deliberate second quarter saw each team battle for good looks at the basket. The Shamrocks battled to a 19-19 tie at the halftime break as both teams struggled to gain offensive rhythm.
The third quarter was Kelly Hunt’s time to shine for the Eagles. She scored the first seven points of the quarter for Zionsville by taking advantage of a defensive mismatch and gaining position on the low block for layups.
“Our assistant coach noticed that if we pulled whoever was guarding their big girl to the high post it gave us a mismatch with Kelly,” Maguire said. “She took advantage of it and our guards did a great job of getting her the ball.”
Hunt gave Zionsville the lead on a layup with 3:02 left in the quarter that made the score 28-27 in favor of Zionsville. Emily Olds then scored on a drive on Zionsville’s next possession to give the Eagles their largest lead of the night.
Unfortunately, the Eagles followed that with nearly a six minute drought. Westfield used its own size advantage with Jenn Anderson to go on an 8-0 run to pull ahead 33-28. Anderson got it done from the line with five straight free throws to give the Shamrocks the advantage.
Olds was able to pull the Eagles within two on a basket with 5:06 left and a free throw that made it 33-31 with 3:20 left, but Westfield patiently worked the clock and turned up its defensive pressure to force Zionsville into turnovers.
Anderson scored inside with 3:04 left for Westfield’s last field goal and a steady performance at the free throw line pushed the Westfield lead to six in the final minute.
Katie Drapeau’s three-pointer with two seconds left secured the final margin, but Zionsville was unable to get the ball back after a timeout.
“What was fun tonight was that there was adjusting going on both sides,” Maguire said. “I think they’re as good of a team as any team in our conference and it showed that we can win a game or two in our sectional.”
Hunt led the Eagles with 11 points, while Drapeau added eight.
Zionsville travels to Fishers for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff Saturday, Dec. 18.