Girls’ basketball: Westlake fights to the end in 3A semifinal loss to Milford Mill

March 13

Senior guard Damira Banks was visibly unraveled as she headed to the sideline for No. 17 Westlake’s first timeout in the 3A state semifinal against Milford Mill.

The Wolverines had rolled the ball out of bounds three times in the first 21 / 2 minutes and were about to end the first quarter with a double-digit deficit. She shook her head and threw her arms up, less in frustration with the Millers’ stingy defense and more with the lack of fight in the Wolverines.

But by the end of a 75-53 loss to Milford Mill (25-1), Banks was more reflective than frustrated.

“I’m not really upset because we didn’t give up,” she said. “I’d be more upset if we did give up. You can’t say there was nothing we didn’t do.”

The Wolverines (22-4) fell behind by 17 after the first quarter and slowly chipped away at the Millers lead as the game wore on, eventually going on a 7-0 run in the third quarter that brought the score to 47-40.

It was during that mid-game run that Westlake — sparked by Towson signee Shanea Butler pushing through the Millers’ defense and Alexus Willey hitting her threes from the left — looked like the team that could take the seven-time state finalist Millers out of the title game Saturday.

“These girls right here, this senior leadership, they never stop fighting,” Coach Ardell Jackson said. “We can be down by 40, but we knew we were coming back. There were a couple turnovers here and there but those girls cut that lead down to 7 and I have to commend them for that.”

But it was the turnover-ridden Wolverines of the first quarter that returned for the final eight minutes, committing 27 overall to fall in their second state semifinal appearance in three years. Westlake was held to less than 50 points just twice this season and boasted two competitive conference wins against No. 16 Calvert and No. 13 North Point, who will play for the 2A and 4A state titles Saturday.

Millers junior guard Dionna White, who averaged 20.3 points per game before the state semifinal, led the Milford Mill charge with 30 points and halted the Wolverines in transition with four steals. Butler had a team-high 14 points and nine rebounds for Westlake and Willey added 11 points with two three-pointers.

“Today’s game was a fight,” Jackson said. “We’re going to build off of this. We’ll be back here next year.”

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