Feb 02, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Stop the Westhill boys basketball team if it’s seen this story before, and doesn’t like how it turns out.
Just as the Warriors are about to become a prime Section III Class B championship favorite, along comes a fast-closing Bishop Grimes to make the climb a bit more steep.
Amid the charged atmosphere of the “Cobra Pit” last Friday night in East Syracuse, Westhill saw a super sophomore named Mike Stone victimize them, leading to a 60-55 defeat.
A season ago, Westhill’s dreams of a sectional title got thwarted in the Class B-1 finals, as Grimes overcame a shaky start to its season to tear down the stretch and finish on top.
Now the exact same thing seemed to be happening. Westhill beat the Cobras at home back on Dec. 16 and, at 12-2, were flying high. Meanwhile, Grimes had shaken off its uneven start and were 10-4, fresh off a huge win at state-ranked Marcellus the week before.
Through a closely played first half, Westhill trailed most of the way, largely because its leading scorer, Dan Ross, got contained, held to a single field goal. Still, the work of his teammates, especially Tom Fisher and Mike McMullen, kept it tight, though Antron Irby’s uncontested drive to the basket as time ran out in the half helped Grimes inch in front 24-22 at the break.
This back-and-forth battle continued in the third quarter, only now Ross got involved with eight points in that frame to keep pace with the Cobras. As they entered the fourth quarter, the two sides were locked in a 36-36 tie.
Here, Stone took over. Though just a sophomore, he has emerged as Grimes’ top scorer, a threat to do just about anything on both sides of the floor.
Westhill saw, on a first-hand basis, all of Stone’s talents. He drained a pair of key 3-pointers to push the Cobras to a 47-42 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
When the Warriors closed within three, 49-46, Stone executed a steal, lay-up and got fouled with 1:40 left. The ensuing free throw made it 52-46, and more foul shots from Stone helped Grimes fend off a furious Westhill comeback at the end.
Overall, Stone had 27 points, 14 of them in the fourth quarter, as teammate Joe Basla offered the help with 15 points.
This negated a fine second half from Ross, who got 16 of his 18 points after the break as McMullen added 12 points. Fisher (nine points) and Nate Nigolian (seven points) were close behind.
Still at 12-3, the Warriors returned home Monday to face Cazenovia, then get a rematch with the Lakers Wednesday before hosting Marcellus in yet another big Friday-night showdown. The Mustangs started 12-0, but have gone 2-2 since leading scorer Will Fiacchi got lost for the season with a foot injury.