Everyone in the Wildcat Nation was fired up, for good reason.
A combination of patience, poise and precise 3-point shooting had put the West Genesee boys basketball team in front of 13-1 Henninger last Friday night as the fourth quarter wound down.
But just as WG was about to snatch its biggest win of the season, the Black Knights' David Simmons took it back, and his big plays led to the Wildcats taking a painful 49-45 defeat to the state's no. 10-ranked Class AA team.
Henninger was riding an eight game winning streak and was 13-1 overall. WG, with a record of 9-4, was also playing well.
In order to succeed, WG would have to crash the boards and prevent their opponent from scoring points in the paint, while having its own success from the perimeter.
For Henninger the game plan was simple: continue to press their advantage from 7- foot center Ben Cronin, and decisively out rebound their opponent.
In the first quarter, Cronin was dominant, scoring eight points and adding two assists, carrying his team to a 16-10 lead.
WG stormed back in the second period with resilience, great ball movement, and balanced scoring, especially from beyond the 3-point arc. Chris Cruz, Kevin Wadach, and Casey Reale all hit big shots, and as a result, the Wildcats sneaked into a 24-23 lead by halftime.
At the onset of the second half, both teams had a hard time executing their offense. Eventually, they came to life, with WG and Henniger racing up and down the court trading baskets.
The Wildcats used an 8-2 run to get back in front, 38-34, by the end of the quarter. Cruz had five of those points, and the Wildcats' defense forced multiple turnovers and limited Henninger's strong offense to a meager 11 points for the period.