Without question, the Bishop Grimes boys basketball team had to navigate through a brutal opening stretch before finding some oxygen.
In the span of seven days, the Cobras had to meet two different OHSL Liberty division foes that wanted payback for playoff defeats a year ago, with traditional power Bishop Ludden thrown in between.
It all amounted to a trio of defeats, which culminated last Tuesday night when Westhill took over in the second half to beat Grimes 67-50.
In the first Grimes-Westhill meeting since last year's Class B-1 final, veryone on the roster contributed to a terrific second quarter where the Cobras, down 14-7, took it right to Westhill's vaunted defense.
By the time they reached the break, the Cobras were in front, 30-26, but it would not be so good again. Westhill doubled its output in the third quarter alone, a 28-10 blitz that left Grimes staggered.
Even though the Cobras had scoring balance, Mike Stone led with a season-low nine points as Steve Dillmore, Joe Basla and Antron Irby earned seven points apiece. Kujcok Ater added six points.
Westhill won because it had balance -- and more production from those guys. Dan Ross had 15 points, with Mike McMullen (14 points), Mike Mascari (13 points) and Dan Karleski (11 points) all reaching double figures, too.
Kept from playing Solvay on Friday night by a winter snowstorm, the Cobras were quite happy to make up the game 24 hours later and crush the Bearcats 75-42.
Right from the opening tip, Grimes was in control, racing out to a 16-7 first-quarter lead and outscoring Solvay in every other period, too, steadily building the big margin.
Stone, with 17 points, led a deep attack where Mike Sugamosto stepped up for a season-best 13 points and Ater stepped up, too, for 11 points. Zach Vaught got nine points, with Luke Tucci gaining eight points and Irby contributing six points.
The battle-tested Cobras will be 2-4 going into the Chittenango Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, which begins next Monday night when Grimes faces Canastota. The championship and consolation games are on Tuesday.