Westbeld carries on family tradition by committing to Notre Dame

Maddy Westbeld benefited from the perfect prototype. Among the nation’s most sought-after high school basketball players, the Fairmont High School senior followed the path – and sisterly insight – of older sister Kathryn Westbeld.

On Sunday, Maddy took another step in that direction by verbally committing to NCAA women’s basketball power Notre Dame. Kathryn, also a former Fairmont standout, was a three-year starter for the Irish and was a senior on ND’s national championship team in 2018.

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“When I was a kid and following my sister’s recruitment, I was always just in love with Notre Dame,” said Westbeld, who chose ND over UCLA. “Throughout my recruitment process, I always knew in the back of my mind that the decision was going to be do I want to carry on my sister’s legacy and go to Notre Dame or should I choose another school? That was the main decision I had to figure out.”

It’s on veteran coach Muffet McGraw to figure out how quickly Westbeld will figure into the Irish rotation. A 6-foot-2 forward, Westbeld was fourth in Greater Western Ohio Conference scoring (15.9) and second in rebounding (10.4) last season.

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She will again team with 6-3 senior center Madison Bartley (14.0 points, 7.4 rebounds) for a formidable Firebirds front line. Bartley is verbally committed to Belmont at Nashville. Last season Fairmont also had 6-foot starting senior Mali Morgan-Elliott, who’s bidding for playing time as a freshman at Toledo.

Like Kathryn, Maddy has emerged as a centerpiece for Fairmont, which along with Centerville, Beavercreek, Springboro and Wayne is consistently among the area’s best Division I girls basketball programs.

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Maddy also would like to follow Fairmont’s level of success when Kathryn played there – a D-I state title in 2013 and state runner-ups in 2011-12. Jeremey Finn is in his second season as the Firebirds’ head coach. Kyle Boze and Lacy (Romine) Drake also were Fairmont head coaches while Maddy has played there.

Fairmont (16-9) lost to eventual D-I state champ Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame in a district final last season.

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“My teammates and I have been through so much in these three-four years of high school,” Maddy said. “This (season), it’s all coming together and I’m really excited for everything. Now I can focus on, OK, this is what we’re going to do for the season. That’s in the back of everybody’s mind. We’re all very focused and we all have that one goal.”

The early signing period for basketball is Wednesday, Nov. 13. The girls preseason begins on Friday and the season begins on Friday, Nov. 22.

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Maddy said the other programs among her final top five were Ohio State, Tennessee and Louisville.

“I enjoyed the recruitment process and it was awesome making relationships with other coaches,” she said. “It was sad because I was so close with a lot of the other coaches. Those calls were tough. It definitely is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders to proudly say where I’m going to play for the next four years.”

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Notre Dame defeated Mississippi State 61-58 to win that 2018 national championship. ND defeated UConn in last year’s national semifinals and lost 82-81 to Baylor in the national championship.

• Springboro sophomore Abby Nugent won a D-I state singles girls tennis championship at the Linder Tennis Center in Mason on Saturday. Nugent defeated Ananya Aggarwal of Mason 6-4, 7-5 in the final. It was the first D-I girls state tennis title in Panthers’ program history. Springboro grad Annie Plessinger won consecutive D-II state singles titles in 1994-95.

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