Natalie Prophet’s 28 points leads Westwood girls basketball team to 74-45 win over Kingsford in opener

Westwood’s Mallory Leece, right, dribbles against Kingsford defender Paige Olsen during their high school girls basketball game played at the Patriots' gym on Friday. (Journal photo by Travis Nelson)

ISHPEMING — The Westwood High School girls basketball season got off to a rousing start with a 74-45 dismantling of Kingsford on Friday night.

Natalie Prophet started her season with a bang as well, going off for 28 points. The senior has been a problem for every team in the Upper Peninsula for several years now, and it appears that isn’t going to change now.

“Natalie’s a huge part of our team and a huge leader,” Westwood coach Annie Skewis said of her star player. “Just even in the locker room getting everybody pumped up for the game, to coming out knowing that we’re going to call the first play for her because she wanted it so bad.

“We have certain plays where we just let them create, and she creates so well.”

To say it was a one-girl show wouldn’t be accurate, as the Westwood defense and full-court pressure caused problems for the Flivvers (0-2) all night long. That defense was something Kingsford coach Jon Lorenzoni was prepared to see, but the way his team handled it caught him off guard.

“It didn’t go as well as we had hoped and I thought it was going to be more of a competitive game tonight,” Lorenzoni said after the game. “We’ve got some things to work on, there’s no doubt about that. Westwood’s a good team, give credit to them. They had a really good game plan, they mixed up their defenses a little bit. Their full-court pressure caught us off guard at the beginning of the game.”

The Patriots’ pressure and transition game was already enough for Kingsford to handle, but Prophet’s big night didn’t make things any easier.

“They’re going to win a lot of games this year, that’s what I said in the locker room, that’s a good team,” Lorenzoni said. “It’s early in the year and I know my girls are going to keep the faith, it’s a long season. I tell you what, that Prophet girl No. 34, she’s the real deal. She’s gonna be fun to watch the rest of the year.”

Prophet and Megan Marta did just about all of the scoring early for Westwood, each accumulating 10 points by the end of the first quarter when the Pats built a 22-6 lead.

With their early turnovers putting them in quite a hole, the Flivvers got a bucket to begin the second quarter before Prophet went on a 8-0 scoring run of her own that prompted a Kingsford timeout.

As the quarter wore on, Kingsford settled in and got some shots to drop. Westwood was held to only eight points in the final six minutes of the half, but still had a 38-20 lead at intermission.

WHS pulled away with a strong third quarter, outscoring Kingsford 22-5. The Patriots began to see contributions from other players, including Mallory Leece, Alyssa Prophet and Madison Marta. Again, the transition game for Westwood was clicking on all cylinders.

“The girls run very, very well and see the floor well, so getting up the floor, running, distributing and our pressure,” Skewis said. “Keeping the pressure on and getting some quick steals there and being able to make our layups is really good.”

The Flivvers scored 20 points in the fourth quarter to Westwood’s 14, but it was too little, too late. In addition to Natalie Prophet’s 28 points, Megan Marta’s hot start got her to 15 points by game’s end.

Alyssa Prophet scored eight points in her first career varsity game, and Leece scored six second-half points.

Talia Wallis had 17 points to lead the Flivvers, while Laura Bracket had nine. For a first-game performance, Skewis was impressed by what she saw from her team.

“I think they came out really hard and played hard,” Skewis said. “Our press looked great, obviously little things to work on, but all in all, our defense looked amazing, offense looked great. We can keep working on baseline and sideline things, we got some silly fouls there. But other than that, they looked pretty good for the first game and the first-game jitters.”

Westwood has a short turnaround before facing Menominee at 7:15 p.m. today. The Maroons have been one of the premier U.P. girls basketball teams over the past couple years.

“Gonna watch some tape and try to get ready for them,” Skewis said. “They are a very good team, hopefully we can use this momentum that we just got and use it to our advantage and again playing on our home court might help, too.”

Travis Nelson can be reached by email at tnelson@miningjournal.net.


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