A little more practice time for the Marcellus girls basketball team translated into wondrous early results.
The Mustangs made a stirring rally in last Wednesday's regular-season opener against defending Class B-2 champion Bishop Ludden, beating the Gaelic Knights 48-46.
Marcellus had all kinds of trouble in 2005-06, going 2-17. Part of the struggles was the fact that so many players had to make a quick transition from soccer (the Mustangs made the state finals in 2005 and played deep into November) to hoops.
This fall, Marcellus fell out much earlier in the soccer playoffs (in the sectional semifinals, to Westhill), and players like Sarah Holden, Alicia Hunt, Emily Zimmerman and Rachel Farneti had a full amount of time to prepare for basketball.
That difference showed in the early going against Ludden, as it controlled the paint and steadily built a 23-18 advantage by halftime.
Appearing to turn it around, the Gaelic Knights used the hot shooting of Molly Byrne (21 points) and Ashley Cianfraglia (13 points) to surge to a 38-33 lead by the tail end of the third quarter.
Marcellus absorbed the blow -- then made its own rally, getting even, 46-46, as regulation time wound down.
Hunt got open and, with 17 seconds left, sank a shot to break the tie. That proved to be the game-winning basket, as the Mustangs' defense prevented Ludden from answering before the clock hit zero.
Hunt finished with 14 points, including six from the free-throw line, but it was Holden that proved to be the biggest threat, with 18 points. Kaity Falge and Leanne Falge both earned six points.