This was a fun game to cover, since the last time I was at Westwood High was back when Jahii Carson was a senior at Mesa, and I travelled to play Westwood.
Coach Ron Campton has done a great job with his Lady Warriors over the last few years. The Lady Warriors are a very scrappy team, despite being undersized and they defend well. Coach Erin O’Bryan has some pieces to work with, as her team has nice size and length.
In the first half, it looked that Westwood had the superior guard play against Desert Ridge. It was looking like the brink of a blowout. Desert Ridge stormed back in the 3rd by having quality possessions and shot selections. Westwood looked out of control - picking up a lot of reaching fouls and having bad possessions. In the end, the Lady Warriors pulled away to beat the Lady Jaguars 49 to 36.
The x-factor for the Lady Warriors was their defense. Their core of guards showed they could defend and create havoc against the bigger Desert Ridge squad.
Here are the prospects who stood out to me:
Mya Johnson - Westwood 2021 5-5 G - An aggressive defender who shows a nice IQ. She has great ball handling skills and footwork. I liked her anticipation as she has a knack for getting steals. Her post scoring skills are on point and can hit from long range.
Nikkianna Kinsel - Westwood 2022 5’1 G - Very impressive player who defends, facilitates scoring opportunities for herself or teammates. A high basketball IQ with superior decision making ability. She can handle the ball well and finishes strong.
Nyse Jones - Westwood 2022 5’6 G - A crafty quick guard who plays aggressive on both ends of the floor. She has a good feel for the game and looks to play very scrappy.
Sam Wattawa - Desert Ridge 2021 5’11 G/F - A tough player who can play multiple positions. She is the heart and soul of the team and looks to carry the team on her back if needed. She has great slashing ability and finishes strong.
Kaitlyn Reekie - Desert Ridge 2022 5’10 G/F - A nice shooter who has range. I like her pull-up jumper and smooth release. Has a great feel for the game.
Asia Patterson - Desert Ridge 2022 6’1 F - She is a strong inside presence with decent rebounding and shot blocking ability. Has potential to be a solid post player in the near future.
The 6A East Valley Region is loaded with Mesa, Dobson and Westwood. All (3) schools are going to fight for the region title, as they have the talent to do so. I feel the East Valley Region is underrated and probably one of the toughest Regions in 6A. I anticipate both teams making a playoff run and look forward to seeing both in the state tournament.