Jan 14, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
So the whole plan was for the Bishop Ludden girls basketball team to handle its business against 2-7 Westhill last Saturday afternoon, then focus its attention to Monday night’s first-place OHSL Liberty division showdown with Cazenovia.
Instead, the Warriors produced one of the season’s biggest surprises — and kept the Gaelic Knights winless in this neighborhood rivalry.
Building a big lead, then hanging on at the end, Westhill reminded all in attendance about its glory days and shocked Ludden 53-51, ending the Gaelic Knights’ seven-game win streak in the process.
Perhaps rust had something to do with it. Ludden had not played in nine days, since its 54-40 win over Solvay on Jan. 3, while Westhill had gone through a regular schedule. Plus, the social spectacle of the Ludden-CBA boys “Holy War” of the night before had drawn some attention, too.
Still, when they took the court on Saturday, Westhill was supposed to step aside — a script with which it did not cooperate in any way.
All through the first half, whenever Ludden did something, the Warriors matched it, and the visitors slowly gained confidence that it could hang right with the heavily favored hosts.
By halftime, Westhill led, 27-25, and it only got better in the third quarter as it broke through Ludden’s defense on several occasions and built the margin to 42-35.
Finally alert to the danger of the moment, Ludden staged a furious comeback in the final period, making up the deficit and forcing the game to the wire.
In the end, the difference was Carly Cooper coolly sinking a pair of free throws with six seconds left that made up the winning margin.
Overall, Cooper had 19 points, but didn’t need to carry too much of the offensive load as Annie O’Connor earned 12 points, Valerie Golembiewski got eight points and Callie Best earned six points.
On the defensive side, Westhill did a superb job containing Ludden star Molly Byrne, holding her to eight points, one of her lowest totals of the season. Michelle Roesch (14 points) and Bridget Musto (11 points) were the Gaelic Knights’ top scorers, as Ashley Cianfraglia added seven points.
Nothing that had taken place before this game suggested that Westhill was poised for an upset of this magnitude.
In fact, when the Warriors ventured to Buckley Gym last Wednesday night, it took a 50-29 loss to the Cazenovia Lakers.
Taking charge quickly, Cazenovia went up 17-9 by the end of the first quarter. Though the Warriors slowed things up for a while, it bogged down in the second half amid the Lakers’ defensive surge, held to just 10 points in those last two periods.
Cooper, with 12 points, and O’Connor, with nine points, accounted for most of Westhill’s modest production. Cazenovia’s Kiley Evans continued to roll, with 18 points, as Carrie Stevens (10 points) and Rachel Hardke (nine points) helped out.
Newly energized after beating Ludden, Westhill hopes to take that momentum into a game Wednesday against Skaneateles before appearing at Utica-Notre Dame’s Juggler Classic this weekend.
As for the Gaelic Knights, it looks to recover Monday against a Cazenovia team it lost to on Nov. 29 before a Thursday visit to Hannibal.