While it might not finish atop the OHSL Liberty division standings, the Westhill boys basketball team can at least know that it did everything within its power to get there -- including a perfect home record in the regular season.
The Warriors secured that 7-0 home mark against one of its most bitter rivals Friday night, coming from behind in the second half to beat Marcellus 59-54 and improving to 15-3 overall.
Marcellus had won the first meeting Jan. 6 -- but that was the last game before its leading scorer, Will Fiacchi, left for the season with a foot injury.
Undefeated and in first place in the league when Fiacchi went down, Marcellus had since lost twice -- to Hannibal and Bishop Grimes -- and had fallen out of first place. Westhill set out to further damage the Mustangs' playoff hope.
Mike Mascari, the Warriors' lone senior on Senior Night, pumped up the home fans with seven early points (he finished with 10 points) to push Westhill out in front 11-1. For the rest of the first half, Westhill nursed that margin, and went to the break still out in front 31-22.
But it took less than four minutes in the third quarter for Marcellus to catch up, pushed there by Will Nolan, who piled up 24 points. Westhill's solid defense made sure no one else got so much production, holding every other Mustang player under double figures.
Still, it remained close all the way to the fourth quarter, and it took another big effort from Dan Ross to pull Westhill through.
The junior poured in 22 points and added 19 rebounds, working hard on both ends of the floor to keep the Mustangs from getting in front. Mike McMullen helped, too, hitting on a trio of 3-pointers to account for most of his 11 points.
To get a piece of the league title, Westhill (15-3, 9-3 league) would have to take care of games this week with Homer and Solvay, then hope first-place Hannibal loses once -- and it has to face red-hot Bishop Grimes on Friday in East Syracuse. The Section III Class B playoff pairings come out on Sunday.