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Solvay girls stun Canastota in Class B playoffs

No matter what takes place in Friday night's Section III Class B girls basketball quarterfinal between Solvay and Clinton, the mere fact that the Bearcats are there is a remarkable tale.

Once at 3-10, Solvay is now threatening to charge into the second week of the playoffs, an unimaginable scenario for much of the winter.

First, there was the Bearcats' charge down the stretch -- a five-game win streak, every one of them needed in order to reach the playoffs. Included in that was Tessa Pucello's 39-point eruption in an upset of Jordan-Elbridge and a remarkable closing sprint where Solvay won three times in as many days (over Hannibal, Cazenovia and Phoenix) to clinch that post-season berth.

And the fun continued in Tuesday night's opening round of the Class B tournament, where Pucello again took charge and Solvay stunned no. 4 seed Canastota 48-31.

Not so long ago, the Raiders were undefeated, cruising along as Solvay was floundering. But everything had changed by the time they met up.

Solvay survived a three-point first quarter by holding Canastota to a single field goal. It then took the lead for good with a 10-0 run in the second quarter, eight of the points coming from Pucello.

Canastota would not wilt easily, though, pulling back within six (20-14) by halftime and staying within sight until the fourth quarter, when another burst by Pucello and her teammates clinched victory.

Ultimately, the Raiders paid for the absence of starting guard of Alexis Havens, and Solvay's defense kept Canastota's leading scorer, Shea Foster, off the board all night.

Pucello, meanwhile, poured in 25 points, building upon her mark as Solvay's all-time leading scorer. Abbey Jones helped with eight points, while Cierra Garner earned seven points and Tiffney Guinta got six points.

Now the Bearcats meet Clinton, a no. 5 seed who beat General Brown 57-39 in the opening round. The winner gets South Jefferson or Cazenovia in next week's semifinals.

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