Westlake girls basketball beats Calabasas in heated Marmonte League matchup

Westlake’s Emma Ange, #25, and Payton Stern, #3, steal the ball from Calabasas Jocelynn Townsend, #25, center, during first period action at Westlake High school on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Westlake’s Taylor Swanson, #20, left, and Calabasas Jocelynn Townsend, #25, battle for a rebound during third period action at Westlake High school on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Calabasas’ Erin Topacio, #1, gets pressure from Westlakexe2x80x99s Makayla Velasquez, #2, during first period action at Westlake High school on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Westlake’s Taylor Swanson, #20, pulls a rebound away from Calabasas Jocelynn Townsend, #25, during second period action at Westlake High school on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Calabasas’ Maddy Tauro, #23, is double-teamed by Westlakexe2x80x99s Taylor Swanson, #20, left, and Devin Feiereisen, #0, right during first period action at Westlake High school on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Westlake’s Taylor Swanson, #20, is fouled by Calabasas Scarlett Weiner, #12, and Erin Topacio, #1, during second period action at Westlake High school on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Westlake’s Taylor Swanson, #20, looses the ball to Calabasas Erin Topacio, #1, right, during second period action at Westlake High school on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Westlake’s Emma Ange, #25, is fouled by Calabasas Ava Yazdandoost, #15, during second period action at Westlake High school on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Westlake’s Mathis Dritz, #33, is fouled by Calabasas Scarlett Weiner, #12, during second period action at Westlake High school on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Westlake’s Taylor Swanson, #20, is fouled by Calabasas Lia Hendelman, #3, during second period action at Westlake High school on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Westlake’s Taylor Swanson, #20, left, defends as Calabasas Maddy Tauro, #23, drives downcourt during first period action at Westlake High school on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Calabasas’ Maddy Tauro, #23, drives to the basket as Westlakexe2x80x99s Makayla Velasquez, #2, defends on the play during first period action at Westlake High school on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Westlake’s Mathis Dritz, #33, drives downcourt as Calabasas Erin Topacio, #1, defends on the play during first period action at Westlake High school on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Calabasas’ Maddy Tauro, #23, is fouled by Westlakexe2x80x99s Makayla Velasquez, #2, during first period action at Westlake High school on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Calabasas’ Maddy Tauro, #23, drives to the basket during first period action at Westlake High school on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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WESTLAKE — Wednesday night brought together the Calabasas and Westlake girls basketball teams for a game that could have Marmonte League title implications, but also one that forced an emotional rematch from last season.

The Coyotes beat the Westlake late last January on the Warriors’ senior night to keep them from at least tying for a league title.

The Warriors redeemed themselves Wednesday with a gritty 55-52 win on their home court in the Marmonte League.

“This game, it means a lot to us,” Westlake coach Josh Budde said. “I was like, if we can survive the onslaught of 3s and the pressure, we’ll be OK. And we did just enough to pull it out.”

Sophomore Mathis Dritz finished with a game-high 22 points and Taylor Swanson added 12 points. Maddy Tauro scored 15 points for Calabasas and Lia Hendelman scored 12 points.

Hendelman hit a 3-pointer to open up the scoring for Calabasas (6-10 overall, 1-1 in Marmonte League) in what was a back-and-forth first quarter that ended in a 14-14 tie when Erin Topacio hit a buzzer-beating 3 for Calabasas.

The Coyotes made seven 3-pointers overall in the game.

The Warriors (8-6, 2-0) began to pull away in the second quarter in what was becoming an increasingly physical game with players grappling for loose balls and seizing rebounds. Hendelman hit a jumper early, but Dritz made a layup to tie the game up again.

“There was a lot of fight on the court from both teams, which made it really fun,” Dritz said. “It was a great win. It was fun to play out there in such a competitive environment.”

Calabasas got to the free throw line on four different occasions but struggled to capitalize on the opportunities. Westlake drew fouls as well, keeping the game from developing a rhythm for the majority of the quarter.

Tauro was the focus of the Warriors’ defense, and they slowed her shot to only three points in the second quarter. The Cal State Fullerton commit found other ways to contribute, though, driving to the net and kicking out to other available players.

“That’s what saved us down the stretch, finding those open shots and finding those other players that people don’t expect to hit. Her thing is, she continues to get stronger. She doesn’t take days off.”

Makayla Velasquez drained a 3-pointer with 6:19 to go until halftime to give Westlake a 19-16 advantage and the Warriors held onto the lead. Topacio came up clutch again, making a 3 just heartbeats away from the buzzer to close the gap to 28-24 heading into the break, but she was benched for the remainder of the game due to concussion protocol.

Coach Destiny Melton confirmed after the game that Topacio did not have a concussion after being examined by a trainer.

“Erin’s my favorite clutch player,” Melton said, “because she could literally not hit all game and then all of the sudden she hits right when we need it. You know when they say you’re not always there but you’re always on time? She’s always on time.”

The momentum returned to Calabasas in the third quarter as Tauro made four free throws to get the Coyotes back in the lead. Dritz made a free throw with 2:20 remaining, but Calabasas maintained a 36-34 lead.

A layup from Taylor Swanson gave Westlake an advantage in the final quarter, but Calabasas was slowly able to work its way back. Emily Abramovitch sank a 3-pointer then made a layup to tie the game at 47-47.

Westlake surged in the final minute of play and went on to hold Calabasas to 55-52 for the last four seconds to win the game and stay unbeaten in Marmonte League play.

The two teams will play again on Jan. 24 at Westlake and could also see each other in the playoffs. Both teams are in Division 2AA in the CIF Southern Section.

“This is a tough loss, I like all the adversity we’ve been through,” Melton said. “This is only going to fuel us. I hope everybody is worried because we don’t plan to lose again.”

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