Eight minutes to go in last Tuesday night's Section III Class AA quarterfinal, and the West Genesee boys basketball team had to be feeling good.
Despite its share of offensive maladies, the no. 7 seed Wildcats were just four points down to no. 2 seed Henninger. Any kind of surge down the stretch, and WG could pull off an enormous surprise.
The only surge, though, would come from the Black Knights, who dominated the fourth quarter in every possible way to end the Wildcats' season with a 58-36 defeat.
Going in, WG had plenty of motivation. A month earlier, on Jan. 19, it led Henninger in the closing minutes at Camillus, only to see two steals by David Simmons turn into three-point plays on the other end as the Black Knights pulled out the win.
Gradually, the Wildcats would use its defense to stay close in the rematch. Down 14-8 after one quarter, it played the game at the tempo it wanted, refusing to let Henninger run or establish a big inside presence.
Entering the fourth quarter, WG was within four, 35-31, but then it all fell apart. Henninger began to build a bigger lead and, as any good team would do, just pulled further in front.
The Wildcats never got close to making a proper response, suffering as Henninger outscored them 22-4 in what turned out to be its last quarter of basketball this season.
A big part of the issue was the fact that, other than Chris Cruz with 15 points, no other WG player had more than five points. Jack Conboy and Kevin Wadach hit that number, while the team, as a whole, made just 13 field goals, six of them by Cruz.
Simmons, meanwhile, continued to be a Wildcat pariah, this time finishing with 21 points and 12 rebounds. WG's defense couldn't concentrate on him, either, as Marquis Kirkland had 16 points and Ben Cronin added 13 points.
The Wildcats finished with a 14-8 mark and must find players to succeed Cruz, Wadach, Casey Reale, Brian O'Leary and Moody Ashkar. Conboy, Joe Fazio and Joe Kesler are expected to lead the charge in 2007-08.