Dec 15, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Arnela Mesic had no time to think, just dribble up the court and see if she could produce a play in the waning seconds of the East Syracuse-Minoa girls basketball team’s showdown with Bishop Grimes last Saturday afternoon.
And when she got fouled on her way to the basket with 3.6 seconds left, Mesic didn’t pause to consider the importance of her free throws. She just made them, and it led to the Spartans earning an exciting 49-48 victory over the Cobras.
This culminated a heroic and tenacious effort on ESM’s part. Down by as much as 10 early and by nine at halftime, it kept coming back, then kept its poise after Grimes made its own heart-stopping rally as time wound down.
It all began with the Cobras trying to end the competition early, bolting to a 14-4 lead. ESM caught up in the second quarter at 19-19, but Grimes, led by Tenley Pitonzo (13 first-half points), closed the half on an 8-0 run and had a 30-21 lead going to the break.
ESM then started to apply full-court pressure in the third quarter, and it translated to success on the other end as it reeled off a 12-0 run to take the lead. The Cobras would shake off the drought and tie it, 40-40, going to the final period.
Then the Spartans engaged in another long shutdown, this one taking more than five minutes, yet could not extend its lead past five, 45-40, giving Grimes one more chance to rally.
With 24.3 seconds left and down 47-45, Pitonzo made a free throw, cutting the margin to one. Then the Cobras stole the inbounds pass and got it to Amanda Marcely, who hit a lay-up with 8.2 seconds to play and was fouled.
Now Grimes led, 48-47, but when Marcely missed the free throw, ESM had a chance to win. Not taking a time-out, the Spartans got it to Mesic, and as she drove to the basket, Mesic got fouled.
Since it was the seventh team foul and not done while in the act of shooting, Mesic had a one-and-one chance. Showing remarkable poise, Mesic hit both free throws, and when Grimes’ last shot fell short, ESM had a victory.
For the day, Mesic had 10 points, part of a well-balanced effort where Becky Teschler and Chelsea Medler each had nine points and Olivia Luciani added eight points. Mallory Buckley got six points.
In defeat, the Cobras saw Pitonzo set a career mark with 22 points, with Marcely (eight points) the only other player to hit more than one field goal.
This came after Grimes reeled off its third consecutive league victory last Tuesday night, battling past Fabius-Pompey 49-32 on its home floor.
All game long, the Cobras’ defense held the Falcons in check, never letting it score more than nine points in any period. Steadily, the Cobras gained a 24-14 halftime advantage, then pulled clear in the final period.
Amelia Heiselman picked up 13 points, including three 3-pointers. Marcely and Pitonzo each had seven points, with Cady Kalemba getting all her six points from a pair of successful treys. Kristine Purcell (12 points) and Stevie Ray (10 points) accounted for much of the F-P offense.
Two nights earlier, ESM dominated at Fowler, doing anything it wanted in the course of a 65-24 victory over the Falcons.
The Spartans never let Fowler score more than eight points in any single period, and by game’s end, 10 different players had at least one field goal.
Medler, with 16 points, led ESM’s deep, balanced attack. Olivia Luciani had a career-best 11 points, while Mesic and Teschler got eight points apiece.
The Spartans host Fulton Tuesday, just after Grimes faces LaFayette Monday night and before the Cobras visit Port Byron on Thursday.