Feb 26, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
All is wonderful in the lives of the Bishop Grimes boys basketball team, who stand just one victory from attaining the Section III Class B-1 championship — something that, a month ago, few of its fans could have imagined.
From 5-7 mediocrity, the Cobras have roared to win 10 games in a row, the latest of them a 64-51 victory over Marcellus in last Friday’s B-1 semifinals at Onondaga Community College.
By doing this, Grimes (15-7) earned the right to come back to OCC Wednesday night and face Westhill (17-5) for the B-1 title. The winner gets Hannibal or Lowville in the overall Class B final Sunday at Manley Field House.
Senior Eric Ball, who had 17 points against Marcellus, said the players did nothing magical to turn its season around.
“We just worked hard and started to play together (better) as a team, and not care who does the scoring,” he said. “It’s special playing with this team.”
Even though the Cobras were the no. 4 seed and the Mustangs the top seed going into this B-1 semifinal, Grimes’ hot late-season run (which was kick-started by a Jan. 15 win at Marcellus) had evened the terms.
And right from the opening tip, the Cobras dictated the terms to Marcellus, using full-court pressure to force turnovers and get easy baskets on the other end. An 11-2 run midway through the first quarter put Grimes ahead for good.
Head coach Jamie Evans said his team’s fast start, a contrast from previous games, gave the Cobras confidence to succeed the rest of the way.
Sure enough, after that early spurt, Grimes turned the game into a long chase that frustrated the Mustangs at every turn.
Marcellus put pressure on the perimeter, trying to lock up Ball and fast-rising freshman Mike Stone. All that did, though, was leave forward Frank Majka open underneath for a series of lay-ups as Majka led the Cobras with 20 points.
From a 24-13 deficit, the Mustangs reeled off eight straight points late in the second quarter, but Grimes shrugged it off, settled down and built the margin back to 28-21 by halftime.
When Marcellus made another push in the third quarter, Keith Kwasigroch came off the bench to produce a pair of huge 3-pointers that kept the Cobras in front, 44-40, as they went to the final period.
Though still leading, Grimes hadn’t quite put the game away when, with the score 57-51 and a minute to play, it called a time-out amid a scramble near the corner with just two seconds left on the shot clock.
As expected, it went to Ball. Double-teamed in the corner, Ball flung up a rainbow as the shot-clock buzzer went off — and it swished, a 3-pointer that all but decided the outcome.
Despite all the attention given to him, Ball still finished with 17 points and needs just 38 more to get to 1,000 for his career. Kwasigroch earned nine points off the bench as Stone got seven points and Joe Basla six points. Will Fiacchi led Marcellus with 16 points.
Now the Cobras draw Westhill, a team with which it split the regular-season series — Westhill prevailing 54-53 in December, Grimes taking the rematch 62-54 on Jan. 25 amid this 10-game win streak.
Much of what the Warriors does centers on intense man-to-man defense, the kind that helped it allow just 39 to Skaneateles in its Class B-1 semifinal win. Solving that defense is the key to Grimes earning its first sectional title in a decade.