Now was the time for the Marcellus girls basketball team to thrust itself back in the OHSL Liberty division race - and knocking off an opponent riding a seven-game win streak would obviously help the cause.
That's exactly what the Mustangs did Tuesday night, leaning on a fierce, physical defense to cool down red-hot Jordan-Elbridge and produce a 42-32 victory over the Eagles.
Long before tip-off, the night was memorable. J-E head coach Leslie Ahern was back on the sidelines, barely two weeks after giving birth to a son -- and she's a Marcellus graduate, which only added to her desire to win on this night.
And it was the Eagles that would start fast, taking an 8-2 lead and, after Marcellus answered, going back in front 15-10 at the end of the first quarter.
But the Mustangs' defense was starting to assert itself. It would blank J-E for more than seven minutes, covering much of the second quarter, so its confidence grew, even as the Eagles rallied before halftime to reclaim a 21-18 edge.
What's more, Marcellus didn't panic when J-E doubled its lead to 26-20. Instead, it relied on forwards Marie Temara and Melissa Lee to clog up the middle against J-E forward Molly Hourigan, which forced the Eagles to go outside.
As this went on, the Mustangs closed the third quarter with eight straight points, eventually building a 13-0 run to pull ahead for good. As it held J-E to just one field goal in the final period, Emily Brissette hit on a pair of big 3-pointers to make it 36-28, and the Eagles would not get closer than six points again.
Temara led with 12 points, while Megan Tock produced nine points and stellar backcourt defense all night. Brissette and Lee each had eight points. No J-E player hit double figures, as Kali Davis led with seven points and Liz Caspari added six points.
Marcellus improved to 8-2 on the season, while J-E fell to 7-2. Both teams have big tests at Westhill next week - the Eagles on Jan. 13, the Mustangs on Jan. 15.