All season long, in the narrative of the Fayetteville-Manlius girls basketball team, Allison Pliszka turned up as a supporting player -- important, but not in the way the Hornets' more well-known players got involved.
That changed in last Friday night's opening round of the Section III Class AA playoffs, as Pliszka found a hot shooting hand just in time, helping the no. 5 seed Hornets beat no. 12 seed Rome Free Academy 74-57.
Based on their regular-season encounter (F-M won on Jan. 13), RFA knew that containing the Hornets' top two scorers, Torie Lee and Emily Trapani, was vital if it wanted any chance of an upset.
Also, the Black Knights needed to hit some of its own shots -- which it did in the first quarter, leaving F-M with a 17-16 deficit and a brief moment of concern.
Then Pliszka started to hit some outside shots in the second quarter, which lifted the entire Hornets roster during a productive second quarter as F-M roared to a 37-27 lead.
Not content with that, F-M turned up its defensive pressure in the third quarter, holding RFA to just five points as the margin grew to 60-32 before the hosts eased up late.
Pliszka, who had not scored in double figures all season, set a new career mark with 22 points, converting five 3-pointers along the way. And Lee still had 15 points, while Trapani gained 11 points and Liz Towne earned seven points. RFA's Lyndsey Brognano led her side with 19 points.
In Tuesday night's AA quarterfinal, F-M met no. 4 seed Oswego, the fourth time the Hornets have met the Buccaneers this season, having lost all three previous encounters. The winner would advance to the semifinals against Corcoran or Utica Proctor.