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Members of the Clarkston Everest Collegiate girls basketball team, along with assistant coach Marc Lasceski and head coach Erin Van Wagoner (front), line up for the national anthem prior to Wednesday's Catholic League C-D semifinal at Novi Detroit Catholic Central High School. The Mountaineers lost, 51-29, to Riverview Gabriel Richard. (The Oakland Press/MATTHEW B. MOWERY)

Basketball - Girls

GIRLS BASKETBALL: CHSL semifinal loss still another step for Everest WITH VIDEO

Clarkston Everest Collegiate huddles up early in Wednesday's Catholic League C-D semifinal game. A third-year program, it's the first time the Mountaineers have advanced in the league postseason tournament. (The Oakland Press/MATTHEW B. MOWERY)

Everest Collegiate junior Lucia Westrick had 10 points and 20 rebounds in Wednesday's CHSL C-D semifinal loss. It's her first year playing organized basketball. (The Oakland Press/MATTHEW B. MOWERY)

Game Info

Basketball - Girls - 2/13/2013 

Clarkston Everest Collegiate 29
Riverview Gabriel Richard 51

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NOVI — Lucia Westrick is hardly the only member of the Clarkston Everest Collegiate girls basketball program, merely one of the newest.

But the Mountaineers’ rebounding machine of a forward might be the player that most embodies exactly where the program is, just a handful of years into its existence: She might be new to the game, but the flashes of dominance prove that once she figures it out, folks had better look out.

Same with Everest Collegiate, which has gone 22-1 in its three seasons in the Catholic League’s West Division, earning its first playoff win over the weekend.

Despite a 20-rebound game from Westrick, Wednesday’s first-ever trip to the second round of CHSL C-D playoff didn’t go so well for Everest, as the Mountaineers lost, 51-29, to the defending C-D champion, Riverview Gabriel Richard.

Baby steps forward for the Moutaineers (14-4).

“I think the growing pains have been fun for us. ... It’s going to take a little while to establish a tradition in the Catholic League, and step it up to the next level,” said third-year coach Erin Van Wagoner, who came over from the Madison Heights Bishop Foley staff to craft the new program.

The Pioneers (10-6) led the game wire-to-wire, pushing their margin to 15 points by the half, and leading much of the second half by 20. Gabriel Richard advances to the title game again, and will take on Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes (14-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday, at University of Detroit Mercy’s Calihan Hall.

[For the full CHSL tournament bracket, click here.]

“It’s no secret that Lakes is one of the jewel teams in their area, and they’ve been strong in the division the last few years,” said second-year Gabriel Richard coach William Jones. “They’ve got a nice backcourt, for sure. I like the fact that they’re scrappy, and their kids are solidly skilled. Their kids can all take the shot, and make the shot. Different kind of opponent than what we’ve dealt with in our division, where most teams have a set girl, or girls (to go to).”

Eleven different players scored for the Pioneers Wednesday, led by Ashley Henderson with 12.

The Mountaineers didn’t have as much luck finding scoring options, hurt in particular by 15 first-half turnovers. Westrick ended up leading Everest with 10 points to go with her prodigious rebound total.

“We knew that we had to attack the basket and protect the basketball, but first-half turnovers — we were timid, we weren’t athletic, we weren’t taking care of the ball,” Van Wagoner said. “I think nerves got us a little bit, definitely. I think being a third-year program, and this being our first trip to the second round of Catholic Leagues, I think it got to us a little bit. I think their nerves got them a little bit, and they were timid, and then once we started playing, we loosened up a little bit.”

Westrick had five of Everest’s nine points in the first half, all of those chances coming on offensive rebounds, a source of much of her scoring. She’s had several games this season of 20-plus rebounds, and averages a shade more than 10 boards per game.

She’s not entirely certain where that prowess comes from.

“I’m not sure. I’ve always been a really good rebounder. I don’t know. I just get the ball. It’s my job,” said the junior, laughing when asked if it came from her days of playing ball in the backyard with her siblings. “Probably. Doesn’t matter who’s around me, just go get it.”

Raised on a farm near Toledo, Ohio, Westrick hadn’t played basketball since the eighth grade before she transferred in to Everest prior to her junior season. But the family backyard games weren’t just one-on-one. Not with a full two teams — plus substitutes — of siblings on hand.

“One older brother, and — gosh — 11 younger brothers and sisters. We’ve had a full team for a couple of years,” said Westrick, admitting it’s been a challenge to play in the more structured setting of an organized team. “Getting competitive again (was tough). I played basketball in the backyard for two years, and no one touched anybody. I was the point guard. So, boxing out, getting competitive, getting big, knowing what I’m doing, playing plays — that was definitely the hardest thing for me.”

She’s merely been a solid addition to a core that’s been growing since the program severed its ties to the joint team it had with Lakes. Sarina Nallamothu, who will be the program’s first graduating senior, was the only Mountaineer playing in those days, spending her freshman season on the Lakes junior varsity squad.

The junior class, which includes Westrick, is a big one, with five members, while there are four more sophomores on the team.

“ I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t even think I was going to make varsity. Honestly, I didn’t, because I played in eighth grade for a year. I didn’t know what to expect. I heard it was really fun from some people that I know. But this year has been amazing, like beyond what I thought it could be,” Westrick said. “I think this year, all the hard work is starting to pay off. I think that I’m reaping the benefits of a lot of hard work from a lot of people, and I feel very blessed to be able to do that. I think this year, we’ve been able to put a couple of things together that we’ve needed to put together, and that’s where we got where we got — with a lot of hard work, and a lot of teamwork.”

The Mountaineers will schedule a couple of fill-in games before heading to their Class D district, hosted by Flint School for the Deaf.

And on to another stepping stone.

“Like most teams, league is our first goal, Catholic Leagues, Calihan Hall is our second goal, and then hopefully a district final, a regional final, and on to states. I wouldn’t trade this journey we’ve had these past three years for anything,” Van Wagoner said.

“I have extremely hard-working kids, we have great athleticism, and I feel like every time we step on the floor, we’re really trying to get better. I couldn’t ask for anything more from them. But we didn’t show it tonight.”

Email Matthew B. Mowery at matt.mowery@oakpress.com.

Catholic League C-D playoff semifinal

(at Novi Detroit Catholic Central HS)

RIVERVIEW GABRIEL RICHARD 51, CLARKSTON EVEREST COLLEGIATE 29

RICHARD — Casey Lyonz 3 2-3 8; Morgan Casanova (2) 0-0 6; Ashley Henderson 6 0-0 12; Jacquelyn Reitmeyer 1 0-2 2; Megan Trueblood 3 2-3 8; Mari Gutierrez 1 0-1 2; Kelly Henderson (1) 1-2 4; Rachel Izzo (1) 0-0 3; Kati Wood 1 1-2 3; Theresa Harris (1) 0-0 3; Totals 15 (5) 6-13 51.

EVEREST — Ashley Lowney (1) 2-4 5; Angelina Mastromatteo 2 0-3 4; Mary Jo Allen 2 (1) 1-4 8; Kersten Engle 0 2-4 2; Lucia Westrick 3 4-8 10; Totals 7 (2) 9-23 29.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

RGR 12 12 16 11 — 51

CEC 6 3 11 9 — 29

Records: Everest 14-4; Richard 10-6.

Last Updated: 2/13/2013 11:42:45 PM EST


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