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ATHLETE OF THE WEEK

O'Byrne, Westlake Girls Climb to the Top Together

January 04, 1990|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

At the Simi Valley tournament last month, the Westlake High girls' basketball team advanced to the final, the first time the Warriors had ever played for a tournament title. The experience was like climbing one rung from the top of a ladder, looking down, and feeling too dizzy to take the last step.

Westlake fell to Buena, a seasoned team well-accustomed to lofty perches and tournament championships.

At the Thousand Oaks tournament last week, Westlake again made it to the final. This time the last step was taken confidently as the Warriors defeated Palmdale, 62-41, for the championship.

Directing the Warriors as ballhandler, floor leader and top scorer was Dani O'Byrne, a junior off-guard who is in her third year as a starter. O'Byrne had 21 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals against Palmdale, a performance that has become typical for her.

In four Thousand Oaks tournament games she had 85 points, 21 rebounds, 18 assists and seven steals.

"Dani does a little bit of everything," said Coach Nancy Bowman, whose team is 11-1. "She has a nice-looking outside shot, an excellent pull-up jumper and she drives to the basket well. She has great body and ball control."

O'Byrne, who averages a team-leading 15.8 points a game, is also unselfish. Three of her teammates also average in double-figures in scoring and often their baskets are preceded by a crisp pass from O'Byrne.

"Although her statistics aren't overwhelming, I think Dani is the best guard in the Marmonte League," said Bowman, fully aware that the competition for that claim includes Camarillo's Nichole Victoria and Thousand Oaks' Michelle Palmisano. "Dani can do more things than the others. But she is surrounded by better players this year and doesn't have to do it all."

Just enough to get Westlake to the top rung of the ladder.

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