KETTERING, Ohio – She can run the point, defend the post and play the wing.
Versatility makes Madeline “Maddy” Westbeld elite.
“It’s not everyday you get a 6-foot-3 player that can do everything,” Fairmont girls basketball coach Jeremey Finn said. “There are times she’ll bring the ball up and run the offense. There were times we’d set her on top of our defense. That’s what’s going to make a difference for her at the next level. She can do so many things, and do them well.”
Westbeld, a senior at Kettering Fairmont High School, was named Ohio’s 33rd annual Ms. Basketball winner on Thursday. The award is presented and voted upon by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association.
Eastlake North senior Destiny Leo was runner-up. The other finalists were senior Edyn Battle from Gahanna Lincoln, senior Katrina Davis from Bellaire, sophomore Grace VanSlooten from Toledo Notre Dame and junior Shyanne Sellers from Aurora.
Westbeld led the Firebirds (25-3) in scoring (18.0) rebounds (11.2), assists (3.6), steals (2.8) and blocked shots (2.3). She will play in the upcoming McDonald’s All-American game (Ohio’s lone rep) and was recently tabbed the Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year. Her college destination is Notre Dame.
Westbeld’s run ended last Saturday with a 47-41 loss to undefeated Mount Notre Dame in the Division I regional final at Princeton High School. The Cougars (28-0) are ranked No. 3 in the nation. Westbeld had a team-high 15 points and game-high 11 rebounds.
“My main focus was a state championship,” Westbeld said. “Team goals are what mattered to me. That fact that I got (Ms. Basketball), though, is awesome. It was kind of unexpected and I was still upset after the loss, so that text from my coach was a little bit of a silver-lining – if there was one.”
Westbeld finishes her career with 1,362 points, 968 rebounds, 269 assists, 218 blocks and 199 steals. A defining moment came early this season (Nov. 24) when she scored a career-high 36 points and added 12 rebounds, eight steals and four assists in a 53-46 win over then nationally No. 2 ranked Hamilton Heights (Tenn.). Westbeld owns 48 career double-doubles.
“She’s so efficient in what she does and how she prepares,” Finn said. “She works so hard. The teammate and program part – she includes everyone in everything she does. And her basketball IQ is so high. She gets it and understands it.”
Westbeld’s devotion to hoops grew in part because of her sister Kathryn. A 2014 Fairmont graduate, Kathryn Westbeld played in three state finals (2011-2013), won a state title (2013) and was a McDonald’s All-American (2014). She earned a national championship as a senior at Notre Dame in 2018. Kathryn Westbeld currently plays professionally in Australia.
“It’s always competitive in the house, but whenever there’s any accomplishment attained, we’re happy for each other,” Maddy Westbeld said. “She’s definitely my biggest role model and one of my biggest fans.”
Westbeld announced via Twitter on Oct. 20 that she was going to Notre Dame. The Irish edged her other finalists (Louisville, UCLA, Ohio State and Tennessee).
“I decided Notre Dame was No. 1, not just because of my sister and the history there, but because of the culture, the history of the girls basketball program and the competitiveness of the school,” Westbeld said. “I don’t know – you take a step on campus and it has a different feel to it.”
She plans to major in business or political science.
“I’ve always looked at myself as the underdog and the little sister so it’s weird to be the senior and the one being named Ms. Basketball,” Westbeld said. “It’s kind of crazy to me and a little surreal. I wasn’t focused on any of this. We had business to take care off.”
“As a coach (Ms. Basketball) signifies what I think of her and what others do as well,” Finn said. “She’s a really, really talented basketball player. I’m excited for her and I know others are, too.
“It’s a great honor, and she is a great rep for the award.”