When the 14th-seeded Weston girls basketball team needed to make a play, it got the job done Tuesday. Weston parlayed its clutch play into a 28-23 home win over 19th-seeded Northwestern in the first round of the Class M playoffs, raising its record to 14-8. The Lady Trojans will play at third-seeded Plainfield tonight at 7 p.m.

"This was a win about determination, effort and heart," Weston Coach Dan Rosen said. "It wasn't pretty but it was a great team effort and I'm proud of them."

Northwestern ended its season at 13-9.

What makes this win remarkable for the Lady Trojans was that they committed 23 turnovers -- 13 in the first half, and struggled on offense. They also missed a lot of shots and lost their third starter -- senior tri-captain Dakota Sloop -- to an injury.

"The turnovers aren't overly surprising," Rosen said. "We're playing with three forwards, a center and a guard and Hannah is a natural shooting guard."

He was referring to senior tri-captain Hannah Hutchins, one of his healthy starters, who began the year on the wing before becoming the point guard when senior tri-captain Christina Welsh tore her ACL and MCL. Weston was also missing sophomore lefty guard Taylor Swanson and sophomore backup guard Morgan Moubayed, who became a starter after Welsh's injury. In fact, two sophomores, Allegra Schiff and Zoe Zegers, who were strictly JV players when the season started, were backups on varsity.

Junior Lianna Hursh, who started the season as the sixth man, started for the Lady Trojans and in fact, played the entire game. Hursh (six points, seven rebounds, one assist) hit the team's only 3-pointer of the game when her shot banked in to give Weston a 4-2 lead and had six of the team's first eight points.

"I came out with a strong attitude because I knew it was important for the team," Hursh said. "I figured if I came out strong, it would help us the rest of the game."

Junior Ellie Martin (11 points, 15 rebounds, two steals, two forced turnovers, one tieup) led Weston on offense. Martin missed her share of layups but hit one from Hutchins to give the Lady Trojans a 10-7 lead after one quarter.

Rebounding was a problem for Weston as the Lady Highlanders had many second-chance and sometimes, third-chance and fourth-chance opportunities. However, Northwestern rarely got an extra chance when the ball came Martin's way because she didn't lose a battle on the glass all night.

"We were all boxing out and it was a collective team effort," Martin said.

Hutchins (three points, three rebounds, seven assists, two steals) deftly set up the offense and put Martin, Hursh and sophomore Anna Mahony in good position to score easy layups. She set up Martin's layup late in the second quarter and the team led 16-9 at the break.

"I tried to go off the screen and pick up their man," Hutchins said. "Once I picked up their man, it was an easy dish."

The Lady Trojans drew contact off these opportunities but their failure to capitalize kept Northwestern in the game. Overall, Weston was 7-19 (37 percent) from the charity stripe with Martin going 3-8 and Mahony and freshman Lindsay Koch each going 0-2, the latter missing two front ends of a 1-of-1 late in the game.

"It's a matter of being unlucky because we're usually a strong free throw shooting team," Martin said.

What problems the Lady Trojans had on offense, they compensated on defense by forcing the Lady Highlanders to shoot an abysmal 8-51 (16 percent) from the field and commit 17 turnovers.

The 6-0 Mahony (eight points, 10 rebounds, one steal, four blocked shots, three forced turnovers) was a main factor by forcing many missed shots and rejecting a few as well.

"I was able to play a lot of help defense and through practice, we worked on moving our feet and that helped me step up," Mahony said.

Rosen is impressed with Mahony's development since the beginning of the year. She didn't play much until Weston suffered its slew of injuries.

"If she gets stronger and a little quicker, she'll be a terrific player," Rosen said. "I'm very pleased with the progress she made this year."

Sophomore Shawnee Sloop (five rebounds, one steal, one forced turnover), who became a starter in the SWC playoff loss to Lauralton Hall, and Koch (one rebound, two steals, four forced turnovers) also helped on defense.

"We had to make adjustments all year and Shawnee and Lindsay stepped it up tonight," Mahony said.

Mahoney was a force on the glass and scored two of her points on a putback.

"Definitely, it was a lot of boxing out and being strong with the ball," Mahony said.

Martin's layup from Hursh gave the Lady Trojans an 18-9 lead early in the third quarter but turnovers, missed shots and missed free throws helped Northwestern catch up. The Lady Highlanders also hit three 3-pointers with senior Sarah Raftery (seven points) and junior Nicole Folino (10 points, three steals) draining two treys for the game, one in the third quarter, to cut it to 18-15. Weston led 19-15 after three quarters.

Northwestern sophomore Rasa Hamel (four points, five rebounds) scored on a putback and Folino tied it 19-19 with a layup.

However, Weston responded with Hutchins setting up Mahony's layup and it never looked back. In fact, Hutchins set up Mahony two more times, one off a screen and another on a backdoor play.

"The pick and roll with Hannah worked really well and I got in good position," Mahony said.

Hutchins looked like a quarterback and after the Lady Highlanders cut it to one, she set up Martin's layup.

"There definitely was a lot of pressure because it might have been my last home game on this court and I wanted to win," Hutchins said.

Koch forced clutch turnovers in the fourth quarter and Martin made her presence felt on defense.

For Weston to beat Plainfield, it needs to play a lot better.

"Maybe we saved it up for Friday," Hutchins said. "The younger players stepped it up big time and made my job a lot easier. All the credit goes to the JV players because they worked with us in practice and stepped in after the injuries."