Central Bucks West played some tough teams this season.
In the Boo Williams Christmas Classic in Norfolk, they faced off against Lake Taylor, the No. 2-ranked team in Virginia. While the Bucks outpaced Bishop Ireton and Saint Mary’s (Long Island) later in the tourney, West was trampled by Lake Taylor’s Titans.
Still, West had some solid wins this year including a victory over Springfield DelCo. The top seed in District One 5A, it was one of only two losses suffered by the Cougars this season. The Bucks also toppled Trinity, ranked fifth in the state in the Class 3A.
While West played three-time Eastern Pennsylvania Conference champion Bethlehem Catholic close, eventually falling by four, the Bucks got trounced by National Christian Academy just one day after killing Coatesville.
Friday, Feb. 15 on their home court, the 14th-seeded Bucks cruised to an easy 75-38 District One Class 6A opening triumph over No. 19 Upper Darby. The 75 points was a season high for West, which was led by sophomore Paige Gilbert, who controlled the boards with 13 rebounds and six points. Senior forward Izzy Treon was the leading scorer with 15 points and six rebounds. Junior Jess Broskey was next with 14 points and 10 rebounds while classmate Maddie Burke added 11 points and six boards.
For their efforts, the Bucks drew No. 3 seed Abington, which took fifth place in districts last year.
Fueled by senior Kassondra Brown, who scored a game-high 20 points, the Ghosts (20-3) outpaced visiting CB West 62-50 to advance.
Classmates Camryn Lexow (15 points) and Tamia Wessels (13) also reached double digits for Abington.
Try as they might, the Bucks (15-9) could not keep pace with the Ghosts, who got out to an early 10-4 lead and was ahead 30-23 at the half and 45-35 after three quarters.
Burke tried to help CB West catch up with 10 points in the fourth quarter including a pair of 3-pointers. She led the visitors with 17 points. Treon (12 points) was the only other player for the Bucks to hit double digits vs. Abington.
“The times we were successful this season were when we were able to execute and the times we struggled were when we weren’t able to execute,” said CB West head coach Terry Rakowsky.
The last time West went up against the Ghosts was in a 2017 District One semifinal where Abington advanced past the Bucks only a few days before capturing the D-1 crown.
This time around, the Ghosts moved the girls game up a day in order to host a girl/boy doubleheader.
“As a competitive athlete, that’s what you live for – an environment that is just crazy,” Rakowsky. “You don’t have to worry about motivating the kids, for sure; it’s just going to happen.”
Treon was one of the two senior captains along with Tori Abelson, who missed the playoff opener with an injury. Rakowsky says Treon is a leader on and off the court.
“She leads off the court with words and leads on the court with action,” said the coach.
“She’s one of our leading scorers, one of our leading rebounders and one of our best defenders.
“She’s aggressive; she gets on the floor, diving for balls.
“She’s definitely a kid the rest of the team looks up to and respects because of how she plays the game.”
In addition to her offensive contributions, the Bucks look to Broskey for defense, rebounding and putbacks. Broskey almost always is pitted against the biggest player on the other side of the court.
“She works so hard – in the weight room, on her game,” said Rakowsky.
“She’s a very coachable kid who takes what you tell her, works on it and improves.”
Burke is considered one of the top shooters in her class and brings a 6-foot frame to the court. She is getting looks from Florida, Maryland, Penn State and Boston College.
And the coach counts on Gilbert to give his team a burst of energy.
Rakowsky compares Gilbert to Nicole Munger, a 2015 CB West grad, a senior at Michigan and one of the top three scorers for the Wolverines this season.
“Every time she’s on the floor, she’s going 100 percent, whether it’s a loose ball, a rebound, playing defense. She throws her body around everywhere the whole game,” Rakowsky said.
“To her, every play matters.”
Against Upper Darby, Gilbert drew a pair of charges.
“She gives you all the intangibles,” added the coach.
The point guard position is manned by junior Olivia Irons, who came in off the bench to fill a role vacated by a player who left the program early in the season.
“She’s taken over that position and we have not missed a beat,” the coach claimed. “She’s a good shooter, handles the ball well. She’s smart and plays good defense.”
Meanwhile, freshman Emily Spratt has had to step into a role not normally asked of a freshman. Spratt was forced into the lineup with the injury to Abelson, who will play at Florida International University next season.
“She’s a very talented kid, arguably one of the best we have,” said Rakowsky, of Spratt. “She’s worked her way into the lineup a little more each week and she just keeps growing and growing as a player.”
On the perimeter, West counts on Burke, Abelson, Treon and Irons. The Bucks showed their skill from beyond the arc against the Royals, with eight made 3-pointers.
Under the basket, they look to 6-foot sophomore Lily Evans, Treon and Broskey. Evans is a presence in the low post and Broskey has a knack for putting the ball through the hoop. For defense, the Bucks count on Treon, Broskey and Irons, who takes on the opponent’s best ball-handler.
West certainly took care of its league foes this season, sweeping CB South, North Penn and Pennridge while splitting the season series with CB East. The Bucks will face 11th-seeded OJ Roberts in a playback game Saturday.