Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Player of the Week for week ending Jan. 24, 2021
Sunday, January 24, 2021 | 10:38 PM
In 1989, the Bethel Park record for most points in a girls basketball game was established when Jonna Huemrich scored 41 points in a victory over Canon-McMillan.
Fast forward 32 years and a new record was set as the previous record holder watched, and cheered, and coached, and celebrated the new mark.
Bethel Park coach Jonna Burke knew her record was about to fall and was happy when her star senior, Olivia Westphal, finished with 45 points in a nonsection victory over Mars.
“When she got to 40 points, I told her that I thought the record was 42 or 44,” Burke said. “So she went after it.”
Westphal hit six 3-pointers and was 9 of 10 from the free-throw line as Bethel Park pulled away with a big second half in a 75-51 win.
She followed up her big night by scoring 24 points in only three quarters in another nonsection victory, 61-36 over visiting Seneca Valley.
“She just found ways to get freed up to get shots off, and her teammates have so much confidence in her that if she’s open, they’ll find her,” Burke said.
Westphal has played a big role in the program since she was a freshman and was a key to the Black Hawks’ success a year ago when they reached the WPIAL championship game and advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals before the season was shut down because of the covid-19 outbreak.
“She has continued to get better every year, but this year she’s elevated her game to another level,” Burke said. “She’s playing with a lot of confidence and determination. She’s become a more complete player. She not only shoots with extreme accuracy but has become stronger driving and in her mid-range game. She is also a sneaky defender and has a great eye to find her teammates when they are open.”
Back in the spring of 2020, Westphal committed to play at Duquesne.
Has Burke noticed a more relaxed player since Westphal has settled on a school for next season?
“I think it’s less stressful for her to know that she’s headed to Duquesne because she can just relax and play, not worrying about what coaches are at the game and who she needs to impress.”
The senior has shown a great skillset with or without the basketball, but Burke says there’s one part of Westphal’s game that really stands out that most great players have.
“I’d say Liv’s No. 1 strength is her confidence. She really doesn’t get flustered, and that is an area where her game has really matured over the last four years. She’s also just a dead eye shooter. If she has half an inch, it’s going up, and I like the odds when she puts it up.”
Bethel Park is tied for first place in Section 2-6A with Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair. The Black Hawks are 4-1 overall and have been ranked in the HSSN Class 6A Top 5 since the preseason.
With Westphal upping her game and with a strong supporting cast, the Hawks are once again expected to fly high and deep into the postseason once the expanded WPIAL playoffs begin next month.
“I like my team more every day,” Burke said. “The time off and late start to the season has definitely been an obstacle, but we are steadily improving, and that’s all I can ask for.”
2021 Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Players of the Week
Tags: Bethel Park
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