LAKEWOOD – The smallest team in the tournament fell to one of the teams with some of the biggest expectations.
But Westminster was only small in size because even though they struggled they never quit in their 70-22 loss at Lakewood High School Tuesday in the opening round of the CHSAA 5A Girls Basketball State Tournament.
The Wolves, who at times play four girls on the court that are barely five feet tall, hung with the Tigers for the first quarter and it looked as though Westminster might be able to play with Lakewood.
However, Lakewood overwhelmed Westminster not only physically, but with offense generated off of turnovers created from suffocating defense.
Lakewood junior Jessica Brooks scored a game-high 21 points, with 13 of those points coming in the third quarter, and she was one of three double digit scorers for the Tigers.
“I am happy with our effort, we came out and represented our home court well,” Lakewood coach Chris Poisson said.
Westminster on the other hand failed to generate double digits in any of their four quarters and was buried after Lakewood scored 21 points in the second quarter and 26 more in the third quarter.
Still, it was the second consecutive season Westminster (9-14, 6-3) qualified for the state tournament after a near two decade drought.
“These girls that are 5-foot-1 certainly don’t play like they are 5-foot-1, and I might be being generous they might all be 4-foot-9,” Westminster coach Jim Iversen said.
“But it’s our speed and our heart that has helped us turn this program around and help put Westminster back on the basketball map.”
More impressively is the fact that Westminster made the tournament after losing 10 consecutive games at one point in the season, as well as seven seniors from last year’s team.
But the Wolves won six of seven critical East Metro league games down the stretch and did just enough to get in the bracket.
“I have to be honest, to make the playoffs after losing 10 straight and after everything we have been through this season, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Iversen said.
Lakewood has turned into a juggernaut and is one of the most complete teams in not just 5A Jeffco but in the entire 5A – even is coach Poisson doesn’t want to admit it.
Moreover, the Tigers maybe better than their No. 5 seed, but if that is truly the case they will have to prove it on the court.
“This is just a step for us, the first step,” Poissen said.
Lakewood (20-4, 14-2) will take their next step when they travel to No. 4 seed Fossil Ridge Friday at 6:30 p.m.