Solvay works late, holds off Westhill

Having dropped five of its previous six games, the Solvay girls basketball team had no intention of perpetuating the late-season revival of its neighbors from Westhill.

To that end, the Bearcats turned to a lethal inside-outside combination Wednesday night to push itself past the Warriors 50-43.

Inside, Tessa Pucello set the tone by pouring in baskets off rebounds. Outside, Chelsey Chavez-Egan used her speed and aggressive style to carry the Bearcats for large portions of the game, including the homestretch.

Combined, they helped produce Solvay's first-ever regular-season sweep of Westhill, bringing a halt to the Warriors' train of momentum that had been building ever since its upset of Bishop Ludden on Jan. 12.

Having won three of four as Solvay slumped through the early portion of 2008, each side arrived at this game with different missions -- the Bearcats to turn things back in the right direction, the Warriors to demonstrate again just how much it had improved from its 2-8 start.

Each side did what it wanted in the first quarter, as Westhill hit on a trio of 3-pointers from Annie O'Connor and Carly Cooper, while Pucello planted herself in the paint for Solvay and got 10 of her team's 12 points, mostly from rebound baskets.

Chavez-Egan burst into the picture in the second quarter. Driving to the basket, drawing contact and making other aggressive moves, she had nine of the Bearcats' 11 points in this frame, and needed them all because Westhill was matching them, basket for basket.

Trailing by three, 23-20, at the break, the Warriors continued to fire away from the perimeter, even if the success rate was varied. Westhill tied it, 32-32, before Solvay closed the period with a trio of baskets and went back ahead 38-32.

Now it was the Bearcats' turn to go cold, and Cooper hit on seven of her 16 points early in the fourth quarter. When she hit a lay-up with 4:50 left, the Warriors led 41-40 and appeared ready to avenge its Dec. 14 defeat.

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