When all was added up, the Westhill boys basketball team's constant downturns in the regular season had a lot to do with the team's end of its two-year reign as Section III Class B champions.
Instead of the comfortable home games or comfortable foes of the past, the no. 5 seed Warriors had to go confront no. 4 seed Marcellus on the road in last Tuesday night's Class B-1 quarterfinal.
And the Mustangs would offer a stout defense of its home court, shutting down most of Westhill's contributors and beating the Warriors 65-49.
Since losing to Marcellus Jan. 26, Westhill had tore down the stretch, earning quality wins over teams like Cazenovia and Hannibal, and building up the belief that, if the team played well and it got the necessary breaks, a third consecutive sectional title was possible.
In its return trip to Marcellus, the Warriors' concentrated its defense on stopping the Mustangs' leading scorer, John Kermes, and it would enjoy modest success as it held Kermes to a modest total of 15 points.
The problem was that Kermes had lots of help. Six other Mustangs got at least six points, with Nate Sexton (11 points) leading the way. This depth allowed Marcellus to control the first half, build a 39-26 edge by the break, and fend off any Westhill attempt at a comeback.
As a stark contrast to the Mustangs' depth and balance, Westhill leaned far too much on Jim Ross, who led both sides with 24 points. No other player had more than the six points Dan Ross put up.
This ended the Warriors' season at 13-8, as it never fully recovered from the unexpected December departure of Dale Ross, who decided to concentrate his energies on off-season football conditioning.
Head coach Kevin King had a young group, too. Jim Ross is one of just four departing seniors, with Mark Wilson the only other major contributor that is graduating.
Dan Ross, Tom Trendowski, Jake Burgess, Tim Byrne, Matt Noonan and John Pellegrini all are expected to return in 2007-08 as the Warriors look to get back to the top.