Feb 19, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
For someone as red-hot as the Bishop Grimes boys basketball team was going into the Section III Class B playoffs, the last thing it wanted to do was sit for a week.
Yet that was the Cobras’ situation as, after closing the regular season with eight consecutive wins, it had to hold on for seven days before plunging into the Class B-1 tournament bracket.
As it turned out, the break did absolutely nothing to hurt Grimes — except, perhaps, make the games a bit closer.
In front of a packed home crowd Saturday night in East Syracuse, the no. 4 seed Cobras fended off a strong challenge from no. 5 seed Cazenovia to earn a 71-66 victory in the B-1 quarterfinals.
The two teams had played in the exact same location eight days earlier. Grimes won that contest 73-64, and knew the Lakers would be just as difficult an opponent to face this time around when the stakes were much higher.
Cazenovia immediately focused its attention on the Cobras’ star senior forward, Eric Ball, whose big offensive production had keyed the eight-game win streak. Chris Nourse followed Ball everywhere and occasionally got help to form double teams.
This caused Ball into a lot of first-half frustration, as he had more turnovers (five) than points (four). It also forced Grimes to spread out and look for other offensive options.
And the Cobras found enough of them to trade baskets with Cazenovia throughout the half until Bryan Wight hit five points in the last minute to put Grimes in a 29-24 deficit going to the break.
The third quarter saw freshman Mike Stone take charge of the Cobras’ attack. Playing with maturity and confidence well beyond his years, Stone had nine of his 19 points in that frame, pushing Grimes back ahead as the lead continued to switch back and forth.
This tense dance continued well into the fourth quarter, neither side able to build any kind of margin. Still, when Ball connected on a lay-up with five minutes left to put Grimes back up 51-50, the Cobras would not trail again.
Cazenovia refused to go away, though, as Trent Widrick and Wight both hit 3-pointers and the Lakers stayed within one, 62-61, as the game entered the final minute.
Herethe Cobras’ poise under extreme pressure showed. Frank Majka hit huge free throws with 52 seconds left to make it 64-61 and, after Nourse missed a 3-pointer from the corner, Ball and Stone added free throws and Joe Basla’s conversions with 4.1 seconds left sealed it. In all, the Cobras made nine of 10 foul shots in the last minute of play.
Ball, despite all the attention given to him, still had 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, not committing a single turnover in the second half. Majka was a major force inside, with 14 points and six rebounds, while Basla gained 11 points.
Cazenovia, in defeat, had Wight put in 29 points, a career high, while Nourse had 13 points and Cody Ash gained 10 points.
Now Grimes will try to make it 10 wins in a row this weekend when it takes on top seed Marcellus in the B-1 semifinals Friday at Onondaga Community College.
The winner gets Skaneateles or Westhill in next week’s final, as all four remaining teams in the B-1 bracket hail from the OHSL Liberty division.