Jan 23, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
To put it lightly, it was a weekend Mike Olley will always remember.
And it had nothing to do with the fact that the Liverpool girls basketball team he coaches earned an impressive 62-46 road win over Fayetteville-Manlius last Friday night, though that certainly was good news.
Even better news came 24 hours later, when Olley’s wife delivered the couple’s first child, an 8-pound, 12-ounce boy named Sean.
All of these concerns were still on the table when Olley and his team arrived at F-M on Friday night. With his wife heading into labor, a week overdue, Olley was ready to leave the game at any time (despite the winter snow outside) if the cell phone rang and events changed back home.
This game was not a small matter. Liverpool, 11-2 at the time, confronted an F-M team that still was dangerous at 10-4, even though one of its critical players, sophomore guard Torie Lee, was out with a stress fracture in her foot.
Unable to put on the kind of defensive pressure it wanted, the Warriors loafed through the first half, allowing the Hornets to build two different seven-point leads before rallying enough to shrink the deficit to three, 21-18, at the break.
During halftime, Olley showed that his mind was still focused in the moment, telling his players to pick up the defensive intensity the way they had shown while in practice.
Sure enough, the Warriors put on full-court pressure in the third quarter. Midway through that frame, still trailing 30-28, Liverpool took charge — or more specifically, Tyler Ash took charge.
Anticipating a pass, Ash stole it, then scored on a lay-up. A scant 15 seconds later, Ash did the exact same thing from the exact same spot on the floor, and Liverpool was suddenly in front, 32-30.
And it would stay there. Sparked by Ash’s aggressive plays, Liverpool went on a 16-0 run that stretched into the fourth quarter, and F-M never got closer than 10 points again.
“We really played aggressive (in that second half)”, said Olley. “When we play like that, we can be very tough.”
Ash led the way, with 17 points, but Ashleigh Bowers was just as critical, gaining 15 points to offset the struggles of Sharon Dennis, who had just six points. Colleen Maloney earned 11 points. Morgan Axenfeld (13 points) and Emily Trapani (12 points) led F-M’s effort.
Liverpool will make a much shorter road trip Friday, to Baldwinsville, with a coach that is dealing with both championship expectations and new fatherhood — a nice dilemma to have.