Feb 19, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Regardless of how it turned out in the Section III Class C playoffs, the Bishop Grimes girls basketball team had a right to feel proud of how it turned out in 2007-08.
With just two seniors on its roster, and without star center Allyson Headd for half the season due to injury, the Cobras still went 16-4 and still repeated as OHSL Patriot division regular-season champions.
Yet it was one of those OHSL Patriot foes that would come back to East Syracuse and take them out of the Class C-1 tournament.
In a tense C-1 quarterfinal that was in doubt until the final buzzer, the no. 3 seed Cobras fell to no. 6 seed Pulaski 45-42.
This again proved the old adage of how difficult it was for any team to beat someone else three times in a season. In their two regular-season encounters, Grimes beat the Blue Devils — a 41-37 win at Pulaski on Dec. 20, and a 56-36 romp in the rematch Feb. 5 in East Syracuse just 11 days before they would meet in the playoffs.
All that familiarity with the Cobras’ full-court press served Pulaski well as it broke the pressure to score the game’s first eight points, blanking Grimes for nearly six minutes before eighth-grader Amelia Heiselman sank a 3-pointer.
Even when the Cobras rallied and took a brief 13-12 edge early in the second quarter, the Blue Devils stayed cool, regaining the lead and building it to 23-17 by the time they went to halftime.
Almost by herself, Amanda Marcely carried the Cobras in the third period. Marcely put up 10 of her team’s 12 points in that frame as Grimes forced ties at 27-27 and 29-29 before Torie Hax hit a 3-pointer and Alison Palm’s basket beat the buzzer to make it 34-29 going to the final period.
Trailing by as much as six in the fourth quarter, Grimes stayed within sight, but Pulaski appeared to have weathered the challenge and led, 42-37, when everything came to a halt.
With 1:30 left, chasing a loose ball opposite the Cobras’ bench, Hax hit her head on the floor and felt pain in her neck. Taking no chances, officials called for an ambulance and tended to Hax until she was taken to the hospital in a stretcher, leaving to a standing ovation from fans of both teams.
When the game resumed 20 minutes later, Heiselman hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 42-40. After an exchange of points over a tense final minute, Pulaski’s Leah Ford was fouled with 5.1 seconds left.
With a chance to ice the game with two free throws, Ford only made one of them. A 3-pointer could force overtime, but the desperation Grimes shot was off target, ending the drama.
Hax, before the injury, had 18 points, a number Marcely matched. Heiselman had 10 points, while Cady Kalemba earned eight points. Ford helped Hax and finished with 13 points.
As the Blue Devils moved on to face undefeated Cooperstown in the C-1 semifinals, Grimes finished a 16-5 campaign, knowing it should be strong again next year as only Headd and Jill Tucci depart.
Everyone else, from Heiselman, Marcely and Kalemba to Brooke Bonacci, Emma Kelley and Tenley Pitonzo, should be back in 2008-09 to make another championship run — and this time, it wouldn’t surprise anyone.