Cardinals claim Westfield Winter Classic

WESTFIELD — The Randolph Cardinals played a dominant second half on their way to defeating the Westfield/Brocton Wolverines 53-35 in the Westfield Winter Classic Girls Basketball tournament on Saturday night. The Cardinals claim the crown as they did two years ago.

“This is a nice tournament to be part of,” Randolph coach Shawn Huntington stated. “They do a good job organizing the tournament. We play here regularly and have had a lot of success here. Everything went easy yesterday as we hit our shots. The first half was tight tonight, but we never lost our cool and found a way to get through it.”

The game was competitive early on as both teams hustled around with the game going back and forth. Both teams hit from the perimeter early as it was highlighted in the last minute of the first quarter when Juli Smith nailed a shot before Sydney Hvizdzak made a deep three to put the Cardinals up 12-11 after one quarter of play.

Katie Bodenmiller began the second quarter with a drive to the basket and also a drive where she found Laura Johnston for a basket. The Wolverines would add to their lead with a few deep shots to go up 23-18 with two minutes left in the half. Randolph would then change their defense and go on a 6-0 run to end the half with a one point lead. Westfield/Brocton’s Mary Conklin and Laura Johnston played solid defense on Hvizdzak during that time as they held her to zero points that quarter. “That was the best defense that we have played all year,” Westfield/Brocton coach Dave Mathews stated. “We held Syd in check during that quarter which is something to be proud of.”

Randolph continued its momentum into the second half and scored multiple baskets early from gathering offensive rebounds. The Cardinals would apply a little more pressure during that time and allowed them to add a few uncontested layups in transition, which was part of a 19-0 run. Westfield/Brocton broke the nine minute scoring drought when Smith made two free throws. Bodenmiller would add another three to put the hosts within twelve after three. We changed our defense during the middle of the game and that was the separation that allowed us to make our run,” Huntington exclaimed. “We needed that change because Westfield/Brocton played disciplined out of the gate. We have become better rebounders and Kyra does such a great job defending. That allows everybody else to follow her lead.

Randolph would continue to play well in the fourth and it was shown when Hvizdzak and Payton Morrison made consecutive three point shots. Despite Westfield/Brocton’s efforts, the Cardinals would finish strong to the end to secure the tournament title.

“They played a great second half,” Mathews added. “We could not recover from our mistakes, missing shots and the opportunities that we had. Katie Bodenmiller did a great job to slow the pace early, but they eventually picked it up and we could not stay with them.”

Hvizdzak led the Cardinals with 22 points to go with six rebounds and four steals. Kyra Pence chipped in with 13 points and three assists while Morrison added 11 points.

Bodenmiller tallied eight points and seven rebounds for the Wolverines while Juli Smith led the team with ten points. McKenzie Wolfe chipped in with six rebounds.

According to Mathews, “There are a lot of positives to take away from the game. We showed what we are capable of and that is encouraging. We were worried that Syd would light us up early and run away with the game. We showed signs of incremental improvement, but were eventually worn down by a better team.”

Hvizdzak was named the tournament MVP. Other members selected to the all tournament team include Haleigh Dellow, Juli Smith, and Mary Conklin of Westfield/Brocton along with Emma Wiggers and Mikala Einink of Clymer.

Clymer defeated Salamanca in overtime to claim third place. Clymer won the JV tournament with a convincing victory over Westfield/Brocton.