Oaks Christian girls basketball tops Westlake to stay unbeaten in league play

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WESTLAKE VILLAGE — The energy was climbing in the Oaks Christian gym as first-year girls basketball coach Keani Albanez paced the sideline in heels, shouting instruction with accompanying nonverbal commands.

“When I was playing, I was a high-energy player,” Albanez said. “And that’s what I gave my team and helped them feed off of it. And I’ve translated that into a coaching role now.”

With both Westlake and Oaks Christian heading into the game unbeaten in Marmonte League play, that enthusiasm was a big part of why the Lions were able put together a strong fourth quarter and beat the Warriors 50-38 at home Tuesday night.

Omamoke Okah recorded 16 points and 11 rebounds and Lola Donez led Oaks Christian in scoring 18 points and added six steals.

The Lions (13-5, 5-0 Marmonte) put together several runs to outscore Westlake 17-3 in the final quarter. Jordan Schwesinger’s three-pointer gave Oaks Christian a 37-35 lead, then Okah jumped up for a basket to keep the offensive run going.

“We ultimately studied them,” Okah said. “We went over the plays, we communicated and got through all our defensive plays so we were able to conquer in the end.”

Oaks Christian is now in the lead, 24-21, at halftime. Faith O’Daniel hit a three with about 30 seconds left for the advantage. pic.twitter.com/nBqKt2URKd

— Haley Sawyer (@haleymsawyer) January 18, 2023

The Lions got the win with not only a new coach, but also a new point guard.

Brooklyn Shamblin, the 2022 Daily News Freshman of the Year, is out for the season after sustaining an ACL injury in the club basketball season.

Shamblin has been a coach on the bench, mentoring sophomore Faith O’Daniel, who scored 11 points in the win.

“Faith is a sophomore, she’s pretty young,” Albanez said. “She didn’t have to step into that role last year.”

Westlake (16-5, 4-1) had control of the game early, maintaining possession to outscore Oaks Christian 13-6 after one quarter. The group was synergistic, considering that multiple players were at different positions due to injuries and illness.

“What I really liked is the fact that we played out of position today,” coach Josh Budde said. “People had different roles tonight and we only had one or two days to prepare for that lineup. When we get players back, hopefully it’ll give us a little more depth, which was one of our strengths at the beginning of the year.”

Taylor Swanson led Westlake with 13 points and Devin Felersen had 11 points.

Westlake has settled in early and leads Oaks Christian 13-6 after one quarter. Here’s Taylor Swanson with a bounce pass to Devin Feiereisen for an effortless bucket: pic.twitter.com/kgXUCOLMlt

— Haley Sawyer (@haleymsawyer) January 18, 2023

The game was tied in the second quarter after Donez hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to two points, then Okah floated in a shot from close range. O’Daniel drained a three with 30 seconds left in the half to put the Lions in the lead.

Westlake grabbed back the lead 35-33 heading into the final stanza. Felersen’s three-point play put the Warriors up one, then Aiden Pino’s layup helped establish a 30-27 lead and some temporary momentum.

The two teams split the rivalry series last season with Westlake winning the first game and Oaks Christian leading the second. The two teams will meet again in the final game of this league season on Feb. 2.

“If we stick to what we’re doing and stay calm and composed, it’ll pay off in the end,” Albanez said.

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