As a new girls basketball season began, West Genesee and Bishop Ludden made the short trip north to play in Baldwinsville's annual Bill Middleton Tip-Off Tournament.
They both arrived with good feelings about a new season. WG vastly improved in 2005-06 under first-year head coach Jeff Ross, going 11-11 before falling to eventual champion Rome Free Academy in the Section III Class AA quarterfinals.
Ludden, also under a new coach (Jill Blasi), did even better, parlaying a 12-7 regular-season result into the sectional Class B-2 title. South Jefferson beat the Gaelic Knights in the overall Class B title game on its way to a state championship.
Both teams brought back most of its '05-06 rosters, though Ludden saw its outstanding senior center, Shannon Sangster, graduate.
And as it happened, WG and Ludden would meet each other in last Friday's opening round at B'ville, with the Wildcats hanging on to beat the Gaelic Knights 45-42.
Sparked by its new eighth-grade point guard, Ashley Cianfraglia, Ludden led throughout the first half, only to see WG establish its paint presence late in the half and tie it, 24-24, before the break.
When Cianfraglia drew her fourth foul in the third quarter and went to the bench, Nicole Monroe took over. The Wildcats' junior forward had eight of her 20 points in that frame, and when Carly Detor's 25-foot shot beat the buzzer, WG built its lead to 39-31.
Eventually, the margin grew to 11 late in the game before Ludden (aided by the fact that Chrysa Lyons and Liz Wierbinski both fouled out) made a belated push.
Cianfraglia, despite her foul trouble, had 11 points, just behind senior teammate Katie Sierotnik (12 points), while Bridget Musto had nine points and Molly Byrne put up seven points.
In Saturday's consolation game, Ludden would bounce back, knocking off the hosts from Baldwinsville in a 45-36 decision.