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Westmont girls basketball improving after initial struggles this season

RIVERSIDE – After an 0-9 start, Westmont’s girls basketball team is showing progress.

The Sentinels have won three games since the slow start, including a 2-2 showing at the Lisle Holiday Cage Classic, to prove the improvement is real.

“I think we’re getting a lot better,” Westmont coach Mike McCord said. “You have to remember we started 0-9, but we’ve been missing a lot of starters. We still don’t have our whole starting lineup because [Alayna Vandercar] has mono. We’re pretty happy with where we’re progressing.”

Sophomore Annie Carlson and junior Mara Casper have been the team’s top scorers in recent games. Carlson, a 5-foot-9 guard, helps provide the small Sentinels a little bit of height while also being able to score points.

“Annie is a nice aggressive player,” McCord said. “She does a little bit more. She’s a little more finesse than Mara. Mara is more of a shooter. Annie is more of a go to the basket finesse player.

“When [Casper] finds her range, she gets very comfortable and does a good job.”

In a recent game at Riverside Brookfield on Jan. 8, the Sentinels lost 63-46. It was a high-scoring game for Westmont, but they couldn’t keep up with the Bulldogs, a Class 4A school that upped its record to 17-4 with the win.

“I thought we did a pretty good job,” McCord said. “We just know that we can’t give up 63 points in a game. We don’t have the capacity to score that many points. We had too many turnovers and unforced turnovers. Some of our shot selection was shaky at times, but other than that I thought the overall effort was pretty good.”

After traveling to Dwight on Monday, Westmont will start play in the Interstate Eight Conference tournament on Thursday. The Sentinels have struggled in I-8 play so far, but will have a chance to make up for that in the tournament. Westmont opens tourney play at home before heading to Reed-Custer to finish the tournament.

Once the weeklong tournament ends, Westmont has five more games on the schedule before entering the postseason.

McCord is hoping that a full squad will be able to make some noise in the postseason.

“We’re getting good play out of some people,” McCord said. “Better play than I thought.”

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