Westchester senior Mariah Blake (2) drives to the basket (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

The Westchester Lady Comets are now one win away from getting back-to-back City Section Open Division titles after they defeated the Hamilton Yankees 66-58.

“It means a lot especially as a senior,” said Westchester wing Mariah Blake. “Last year, I was a junior coming in. We won a ring and I know how big it is to get a ring.”

After the matchup, Hamilton head coach Sherland Chensam was honored with the 2022-2023 CIF Model Coach award. The honor is for coaches who are positive role models for their student athletes who have several positive attributes, like fairness and trustworthiness.

“It’s really a privilege for me to know that I put the work in,” Chensam said. “To be honored on the of the biggest stages was such a pleasure.”

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Westchester and Hamilton are in first and second place in the Western League respectively. They are 1-1 in their meetings during the season.

Westchester took control of the contest early, securing a 12-4 advantage, Hamilton cut their deficit to a three-point difference by the end of the first quarter.

The Yankees struggled to make stops and Westchester was shooting with accuracy. If a shot would not fall, the Lady Comets created second-chance opportunities. By the half, the Lady Comets were up 34-23.

Westchester made a five-point run to start the third phase, Hamilton responded by battling in the paint to score or get sent to the free throw line.

“I think at that point, we just needed to make a change for something,” said Yankees junior Kinidi Curl. “We just started turning it up, playing harder.”

Foul trouble stunted the Yankee’s rally as shots continued to fall for the Lady Comets. Westchester went into the fourth phase with a 10-point advantage.

Westchester junior Reign Waugh (5) defends Hamilton junior Kinidi Curl (15) (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

Foul calls worked against Westchester and Hamilton took advantage at the free-throw line. Three-pointers by the Yankees would close their deficit to as little as four points.

“We noticed the defense that they were running, they ran it the last time we played them,” said Hamilton junior Jade Fort. “We’ve been working at that in practice on how to break that and I felt like as we were warming up, it  got better with us understanding it.”

In the final minutes of the match-up, two Yankees were fouled out. The Lady Comets staved off the Yankee’s late rally with charity points of their own.

“Coming into this game, we just knew we had to be hungrier than the other team. We already knew that they was hungry,” said Westchester senior Serenity Johnson. “We came out here knowing that we had to fight for it.”

Westchester is set to clash against the Birmingham Patriots for the Open Division crown on February 24 at 4:00pm at Pasadena City College.