As it is shaping up, the Westhill boys basketball team is once again a prime contender in both the OHSL Liberty and Section III Class B ranks, relying, as usual, on defense as the bedrock of its title runs.
In the league opener last Tuesday night at Skaneateles, the Warriors never let the Lakers get too many open looks, took the lead early and never relinquished it in a 54-37 decision.
Quite unlike its opening win over Mexico a week earlier, this game didn't require any fourth-quarter heroics. Instead, the Warriors' punishing man-to-man pressure led to turnovers and a 26-15 halftime advantage.
While the margin didn't change much in the second half, Westhill maintained a comfortable advantage behind a two-pronged attack.
Dan Ross attracted defensive attention, earning nine of his 19 points on the free-throw line. This gave more open looks to Nate Nigolian, whose 16 points included a pair of 3-pointers. Tom Fisher added eight points. For Skaneateles, Nick Pesarchick had 16 points, nearly half his team's output.
Westhill then ventured to the eastern end of the section for a weekend tournament in Sherburne-Earlville, finding more success there.
To start with, the Warriors dominated Unadilla Valley in the opening round, a 77-39 romp decided in the second quarter when Westhill couldn't seem to miss, outscoring Unadilla 32-7 to break it open.
Ross, with 21 points, led four Warrior players that scored in double figures. Nigolian earned 13 points, while Dan Karleski set a new season mark with 11 points and Mike McMullen chimed in with 10 points.
Saturday's final pitted Westhill against Baldwinsville, who had edged past the hosts from Sherburne-Earlville 51-50 in the opening round.
This proved to be the toughest game of the Warriors' season so far, but a strong second half allowed for a 58-50 victory over the Bees.