So it was Section III Class C playoff time -- and also time for the Bishop Grimes girls basketball team to assert its total will over everyone else in the field.
Or at least that was the initial plan.
The 18-0, top-seeded Cobras were expected to cruise past no. 9 seed Onondaga in Friday night's Class C quarterfinal in East Syracuse, but it took a long time before Grimes could take control and earn a 41-32 victory over the Tigers.
Part of that had to due with the quality of the opponent. Though it was a no. 9 seed, OCS had won eight of its last nine games, including a 51-49 thriller over Pulaski in the Class C opening round three nights earlier.
Also, the Tigers knew what Grimes would do, having played them back on Jan. 7, though the Cobras rolled to a 43-20 victory in that encounter.
Most of all, though, Grimes had not played in eight days, and the rust showed in the first quarter as it only managed three points and fell behind. Only the sharp work of the Cobras' pressure defense kept OCS from building something bigger than a 6-3 margin.
It wasn't until late in the half that Grimes inched in front, and it only had a 14-13 advantage at the break, the majority of the offense coming from Amelia Heiselman hitting on a trio of 3-pointers. Everyone else remained comparatively cold.
But that changed in the third period, as the Cobras doubled its output and extended its lead to 28-21. Tied up for much of the early going by a tall Tigers front line, senior forward Amanda Marcely sped her way past them and started to convert baskets with regularity.
Of Marcely's 13 points, 11 came in the second half, and her work, combined with Heiselman (14 points), some key rebounds from Emma Kelley and five-of-seven free-throw shooting down the stretch, allowed the Cobras to make it through. Geena Brady led OCS with 14 points.
In Saturday's Class C semifinal at Chittenango High School, Grimes will meet no. 5 seed Utica-Notre Dame, a team it barely beat 45-42 during the Cobras' annual Holiday Classic on Dec. 29. Game time is 1 p.m.
Led by eighth-grader Emily Durr (who had 18 points in that first game against Grimes and made the All-Tournament team), the Jugglers have beaten Beaver River (53-25) and Waterville (47-40 in overtime) to reach this point. The winner goes to Utica Memorial Auditorium March 6 for the final against Thousand Islands or Little Falls.