Dec 07, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Through stellar defense and an ability to play its best down the stretch, the Fayetteville-Manlius girls basketball team made it all the way to last year’s Section III Class AA final.
And while the Hornets could not beat Cicero-North Syracuse in that championship game, it still accomplished a lot — and left F-M with a lot of expectations for 2009-10.
Torie Lee, Morgan Axenfeld, Liz Towne and Katie Sager graduated, meaning head coach Scott DeForest had to find four new starters to team up with senior Emily Tripani, the lone returning starter.
Judging by the early returns, the Hornets appear just fine, as it battled its way to the first-place trophy at the annual Jamesville-DeWitt Tip-Off Tournament, beating the host Red Rams 40-36 for the championship.
Both of F-M’s games proved to be major tests. In the opening round, the Hornets had to rally to force overtime against fellow Class AA power Oswego, then pulled out a 48-42 victory over the Buccaneers.
F-M had beaten Oswego 38-35 in last year’s AA quarterfinal round. Remembering that, the Bucs seized an early 12-9 lead on the Hornets, then played to a virtual stalemate over the next two periods as both defenses proved stout.
As regulation time wound down, F-M still trailed 38-36 — but Trapani, showing her veteran poise, sank the tying basket, and the two sides went to a four-minute OT period.
There, the Hornets took control, outscoring the Bucs 10-4. Trapani, with 20 points, and Alexis Rios, with 13 points, accounted for much of F-M’s offense as Oswego got 13 points from Michelle Canale and 11 points from Brooke Reifinger.
J-D was 14-8 a season ago, its Class A title dreams stifled as much by injury as by inconsistent play. Looking to improve, the Red Rams started out well in its own tournament, beating Massena 58-47 in the opening round.
A 19-7 run in the second quarter broke the game open, and J-D never got caught. Alyssa Gratien was superb, pouring in 22 points, including all four of her team’s 3-pointers, while Theresa Hernandez had 14 points and Jessica Kramer got 12 points. Nicole Ortega contributed eight points.
This set up Saturday’s final between J-D and F-M. In this heated local battle, it came down to defense — and that’s just what the Hornets wanted.
F-M inched into a 17-13 lead by halftime, then spent the rest of the contest answering every time the Red Rams would try to catch up. What’s more, the Hornets shut down J-D for long periods and didn’t let anyone other than Gratien (14 points) or Kramer (13 points) be productive.
Meanwhile, Trapani worked her way to 15 points and tournament MVP honors. Ali Pliszka stepped up, earning nine points, while Maureen Gilroy added six points.
Before J-D could host the tournament, it first had to take care of its opener last Tuesday against Chittenango — and it did so, with frightening authority, as it shut out the Bears through long portions of a 49-16 decision.
Lethal on the defensive side, J-D matched that with a consistent, productive attack that led to an 18-2 edge by the end of the first quarter. As if that wasn’t enough, J-D also outscored Chittenango 18-6 in the third period.
Kramer, with 14 points, nearly matched the Bears by herself. Gratien had nine points, while Caitlin Cariseo and Ortega each had six points.