Western Girls Basketball Looking to be One of Baltimore City's Best

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Last year, Western's girls basketball team had a breakout campaign, finishing the year 19-7 and reaching the Baltimore City Championship.

Despite the strong season, head coach Tasha Townsend, who was in her first season of coaching at Western, still felt the team could have done better. After winning two games in the MPSSAA playoffs against Mervo and Kenwood, Western's season ended in their sectional final against Catonsville.

"Last year was a learning period with players and coach getting to know one another, and finding out what type of system we all would be comfortable with," Townsend said. "I believe we left a lot of basketball out there to be played."

Just like last season, Western is off to a hot start this year. The Doves are 8-1, outscoring their opponents 485-289 in the process. The team has also already beaten many of the traditional powerhouses in Baltimore City in Poly and City College. The team's lone loss came against Neumann Gorretti from Pennsylvania.

A couple standout performers for the Doves are Kyaja Williams and Jasmen Walton (pictured above). Williams, a senior small forward, is the team's leader on the court. Her defense has been top notch this year, and she's also had games when she's been able to score at will.

Walton is a versatile individual, capable of playing either guard position, as well as small forward. An excellent passer, Walton sets the tempo for the team and does an excellent job of getting everyone on the floor engaged in the play.

"We're just playing good team ball," Townsend said, when asked about her team's strengths. "We are a really good defensive team, we play hard on both ends, and get everyone involved."

The team's marquee win is a 48-38 victory over defending Baltimore City champion, as well as arch rival, Poly. Last year, the teams played three times, all of which were close contests. Western won one the first meeting, their first win over Poly since 2011, but lost the last two, including the Baltimore City Championship.

The two teams are scheduled to play again on Feb. 5. Despite being excited over winning the first game against Poly, Townsend is preaching to her team to remain equally focused on each opponent this season. If the Doves do that, they may have a big ending to the season.

"I just try to keep my girls grounded and play game by game," Townsend said. "We take every game as a challenge to better ourselves as a team and an individual."
January 13th, 2016By: Wick Eisenberg

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