The Westchester Lady Comets basketball team paced the Western League with a 12-0 record (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

The Westchester Lady Comets relied on their defense to defeat the sharp-shooting Granada Hills Highlanders 51-44, winning the 2022 CIF City Section girls’ basketball Open Division Championship.

Lady Comets junior forward Mariah Blake scored 20 points while Highlander junior Marianne Boco led all scorers with 29 points.

“Our main focus was to stop [Boco] from going downhill. We talked about it a lot,” said Westchester senior guard Rylie Waugh. “I’m really proud of all of us for stepping up, we stopped [Boco] from getting to the hole and therefore that’s how we won.”

Mariah Blake (2) scored 20 points against Granada Hills (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

Granada Hills players would draw double teams early in the game, allowing the open shooter to score. Boco would fake out her defenders to sprint to the basket, resulting in either a score or a trip to the free-throw line.  The Highlanders were up 16-13 at the end of the first quarter.

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“It’s just like facilitating offense with my team, we have good chemistry and it’s always good to work with them,” Boco said. “Sometimes its me that’s open for the shot, sometimes it’s my teammates but I always try to get an open look.”

The Lady Comets revved up their defensive effort in the second quarter. A four-point run by sophomore guard Reigne Waugh would give Westchester a lead before halftime. At this point, Blake had 10 points and Boco had 11. The Lady Comets only allowed the Highlanders to score four points during the phase.  Blake was assigned to guard Boco.

Westchester senior guard Rylie Waugh (4) scored 11 points against Granada Hills (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

“She was tough to guard, she’s shifty. She’s a good player,” Blake said. “Our key was to force the left and hedge the screens and it kind of worked out.”

The third quarter remained close, consisting of four ties. A shot from senior center Anyse Grimble gave the Lady Comets a two-point advantage going into the final phase.

During the fourth quarter, Granada Hills senior Krystal Pineda and Boco fouled out. Blake remained consistent with her shot from the field and from the free throw line to secure the victory.

Westchester senior center Anyse Grimble (33) scored eight points during the title game (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

“Once we were boxing out, Granada Hills, their players were fouling out one by one,” Waugh said. “We were getting our and-ones, we were making our free throws.”

Westchester reached the City Section Open Division title game last season but lost to Birmingham, 51-46. Blake noted how the Westchester squad “wanted to make a comeback.”

“Everybody’s shots were important, everybody from this team was very big,” Blake said. “They’re important and I love playing with these guys.”

Westchester senior guard Ron’yae Jackson (22) is averaging 12.3 points per game this season (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

This year marks Granada Hills’ third Open Division championship appearance in six seasons.

“I just love being with a good team,” Boco said. “I think we always have good heart, we’re always willing to get to the floor first or just work together.”