Mike Dyer reports:
Lakota West junior post player Arianne Whitaker was still shaking with emotion.
A few minutes after the Firebirds defeated Mason 44-39 on Monday night in a Division I girls’ basketball sectional final, Whitaker couldn’t stop smiling.
“We wanted to play them (Mason) so bad,” Whitaker said. “… I am so glad we won.”
The Firebirds will return to the district final for the first since 2010 season as Lakota West defeated Mason at Lakota East.
Whitaker had 14 points and 12 rebounds to help lead Lakota West (20-5).
“That is honestly the best game I ever played this year,” Whitaker said. “I was in the zone.”
Lakota West coach Andy Fishman couldn’t be more proud of his squad, including its strong defensive effort and composure late in the game.
“This is all about celebrating what we’ve accomplished tonight and this is going to be a steppingstone to the next level of the tournament,” Fishman said.
Junior guard Lauren Cannattelli added 10 points and she and Whitaker made some critical free throws with less than a minute left to help lift the Firebirds, who improved to 12-1 in posteason play at Lakota East, according to the Lakota West athletic department.
Sophomore guards Danielle Wells and Nia Staples added seven points each.
“Our girls never got rattled,” Fishman said. “I thought we did a good job of sticking to our game plan.”