Should the West Genesee boys basketball team ascend to any kind of heights this season, it might look back to last Monday night's 55-50 victory over Christian Brothers Academy as a moment where it all began to click.
When the Wildcats got invited to the 22nd annual Bottar-Leone Holiday Classic, it looked to be nothing more than a nice gesture by Camillus resident Buddy Wleklinski -- who just happens to be CBA's head coach and athletic director.
But WG came to this tournament with winning in mind, and did not let a slow start, or a hostile setting, or late-game pressure, affect its focus in any way against the state Class AA no. 14-ranked Brothers.
Everything seemed to go wrong in the first quarter, as WG did not score for more than five minutes. It also got to see home fans cheer on senior Mike Goodman as his steal and lay-up during that stretch led him to 1,000 career points.
Gradually, the Wildcats came to life on the offensive side, helped in no small part by the fact that CBA's talented point guard, Stefan Thompson, picked up three quick fouls and missed most of the first half.
Despite some missed free throws, the Wildcats, down by as much as 11, began to find creases in the Brothers' defense and, by halftime, were within five, 25-20, even though Jack Conboy had just one point to his credit.
That would change in the third quarter as Conboy, Conor Regin and Tyler Carr fueled WG's rally. When Greg Wadach hit a 3-pointer late in the period, the Wildcats had its first lead of the night, 38-36, much to the delight of a large contingent of fans that made the trip from Camillus.
CBA reclaimed the lead, only to see Wadach tie it with a 3-pointers and Conboy hit a turnaround jumper with 4:28 left that, as it turned out, put WG ahead for good.