by Clancey Cleveland
Jan 05, 2012
The 24th Annual Lady Jaguar Classic basketball tournament kicked off Thursday, Dec. 5, but it was the first year to host the tournament in Westmoore’s new gym.
“It’s a really amazing experience to have enough room,” Westmoore Athletic Director John Burruss said. “We are temperature controlled. We have enough locker rooms. We have a great hospitality room. It’s been a major upgrade. We are very happy and very pleased.”
With eight teams in the tournament, the Lady Jaguars had their work cut out for them. Although the team has won their tournament several times over the years, none of the girls presently on the team has experienced a Lady Jaguar Tournament championship.
“It gives us a lot of drive,” senior Brittany Alavinejad said. “(Last year) we didn’t believe in ourselves. This year, we have the drive to win, and with nine seniors, we believe in ourselves. It’d be awesome to win this one.”
First opponent for Westmoore was Mustang. The Lady Broncos were ranked 10th in 6A with a 4-3 record coming into the tournament.
After a slow first quarter start, the Jaguars were down 9-11. Two three-point shots by Alvinejad had kept Westmoore in the game.
Nerves settled and better basketball was played for the next three quarters. Westmoore started making stops on defense, pulling down rebounds, and coming off screens for the open shot.
Alvinejad led Westmoore in points and rebounds (19 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists). The senior guard credits her individual success to the relationship she has with her coach.
“At the beginning of the season, I didn’t believe in myself,” she said. “But then I talked to Coach and she said, ‘Believe in yourself. You’re one of the best players we got.’”
Mustang kept a short bench throughout the game. The guards played the entire game, and no substitutions were made in the second half.
Westmoore took advantage of the tired legs of the Lady Broncos by running the floor very well in the second half.
With six minutes left in the game, Mustang made a run for it, causing Coach Andrea Guziec to call a timeout and re-group her Lady Jags. In the huddle she told them, “Don’t play scared - play to win.”
“We’ve had a rough go the last couple years,” Guziec said. “But I have the same group back, so we have experience. We know what needs to be done. I think we just lack a little bit of self-belief. If we can find that in us, and not be scared to lose, but play to win, that’s something that we’re learning.”
With under a minute left to play, Mustang rebounded a missed Jaguar layup and pushed the ball down the court. Good defense caused a Bronco turnover. Then three quick fouls by Mustang in the half court offense put Alavinejad at the line for a one-and-one.
Swish and swish, and the game was clinched at 43-40.
“I think this helped a lot,” Coach Guziec said. I think being able to finish that game. It was a good win against a good team.”
Westmoore will play 6th ranked Booker T. Washington tomorrow at 6 p.m. Early on Thursday, Booker T. beat Lawton Eisenhower to advance in the tournament.
“We’re taking this one game at a time,” Coach Guziec said. “Having already played Del City, that athleticism that Del City has, Booker T. has. However, I think Booker T. has some really good shooters. We’re going to need to take care of the ball against their athleticism and their quickness.”