Bethel Park’s Westphal looks forward to future at Duquesne

Sunday, April 25, 2021 | 10:01 AM

Olivia Westphal is recognized as one of the best Bethel Park basketball players in school history.

“My four years at Bethel Park went extremely fast,” she said, “and I was fortunate to have very talented teammates throughout my four years.”

A highly talented 5-foot-10 guard known for her deft shooting touch, Westphal was a four-year varsity starter and four-year letter winner. She averaged 24.7 points in her senior season and set a school record with a 45-point performance Jan. 21 in a 75-51 nonsection win at Mars.

Westphal wrapped up her distinguished career as the program’s second-leading all-time scorer with 1,631 points.

“Olivia Westphal had a tremendous impact on our basketball program over the last four years,” coach Jonna Burke said. “She was an impact player since the first day she showed up to open gym.

“Liv is as good as anyone who has ever put the Lady Hawk uniform on. She had an amazing senior season. She put us on her back and did whatever it took to win games.”

As much as Westphal’s career is defined by her crackerjack stats, it is perhaps her innate drive for success and well-defined poise that sets her apart from others.

“Olivia is an outstanding student-athlete,” Burke said. “She has maintained above a 4.0 GPA her entire high school career.

“She is very competitive and goes for the distance in the classroom as well as on the court. She wants to win and has expectations for herself, and always works extremely hard to be successful. I would describe her as driven.”

Duquesne was the first college to offer Westphal a scholarship, reaching out in August 2017 prior to her start of high school.

“In women’s basketball, her early offer is pretty common place,” said Dan Burt, the Dukes veteran coach. “We wanted to be involved early because we saw her shooting mechanics, skill level and basketball instincts were at a high level for her age group, not just locally but nationally.”

Westphal eventually landed offers from more than a dozen schools, including Akron, Charlotte, Fordham, George Washington, Manhattan, Miami (Ohio), Monmouth, Toledo and Wichita State.

“Duquesne offered me at the end of my eighth grade year and continued to recruit and support me throughout my high school career,” Westphal said. “I had such a great connection with each coach, which made me lean toward Duquesne the most.

“My sole focus is on getting stronger and training to get ready to play at Duquesne. The main goal is to win an Atlantic 10 championship.”

The Bethel Park hoopster said she already knows a few of the players on the Dukes women’s team.

“I’ve actually played AAU with Megan McConnell since fifth grade, and I also played with Tess Myers for a few years as well,” she said.

Westphal has a 4.2 GPA and is a National Honor Society member. She plans to major in business and eventually attend law school.

“For as good as Liv was for us at Bethel Park these last four years, she has the potential to be even better at Duquesne,” Burke said. “She has a very high basketball IQ and her potential is exponential. I expect great things from her over the next four years.”

Burt said he expects Westphal to pick up the Dukes’ system then vie for playing time upon her arrival on campus.

“Liv is an outstanding shooter with good basketball instincts,” Burt said. “With so many returning guards with experience, there are few expectations on Liv when she gets on campus.

“We expect Liv to compete every day at a high level on the court, in the weight room and in the classroom. We expect Liv to push our older players with her shooting ability, and with a new offense all of our players are starting from zero which certainly benefits an incoming freshman.”

Westphal, who celebrated her 19th birthday in March, began playing basketball at a young age.

“When I was 2 weeks old, my mom brought me to my brother’s basketball game and ever since then I became a gym rat,” she said. “I started playing basketball at the YMCA when I was 5.

“My parents and the coaches I’ve played for have had the most influence on my career. They would always push me to be my best, support me no matter what, and trust my decisions on the court.”

There were an abundance of highlights — both personally and team-wise — for Westphal during her varsity career.

“There were many,” she said, “like playing in one of the nicest gyms in the WPIAL, getting to play in front of such a supportive community, playing for a WPIAL championship, scoring my 1,000th point my junior year, and breaking the single-game scoring record at Bethel Park.”

During Westphal’s career, Bethel Park racked up a 79-18 record, advanced to the WPIAL playoffs four times, finished as the WPIAL Class 6A runner-up in 2019-20, qualified for three PIAA tournaments and captured one section championship.

The Black Hawks won 69 of 81 regular-season games and went 37-7 in section play the past four years.

Bethel Park opened its 2019-20 schedule with 14 consecutive victories before ending up 23-3. The Bethel Park girls also posted a 20-2 regular-season record in 2018-19 before finishing 22-4.

“Olivia was an intricate part of 79 wins, a section title and a WPIAL championship appearance in her junior season,” Burke said.

Westphal’s junior season was cut short when the PIAA canceled its tournament in response to the covid-19 outbreak.

But that year the Black Hawks were able to take first place in Section 2-6A with a 13-1 record, go 19-2 in the regular season, win two WPIAL and two PIAA games, and advance to the state quarterfinals.

“It was really heart-breaking when we got shut down,” Westphal said. “My junior year team was the best team I’ve played on due to all of us being so close and growing up together.”

The Bethel Park senior will cap her high school hoops career May 15 with an appearance at the Roundball Classic, which features eight games held over three days at Geneva College.

Westphal received various postseason accolades including being named Big 56 first-team all-section, All-WPIAL first team and a Trib 10 basketball all-star.


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