On an active and exciting Friday night, two basketball battles between Westhill and Marcellus ended in close to the same manner.
The boys Warriors went to the Mustangs' home court and, with a stirring comeback that featured timely shooting in the clutch, prevailed 47-43.
Back at Westhill, the girls Warriors completed a home sweep of all its chasers in the OHSL Liberty division, holding off Marcellus 44-41.
Marcellus, on the boys side, caught Westhill at a good time, just as its senior point guard, Will Nolan, returned from an injury that kept him out for several weeks. This would be the first of two encounters between the Warriors and Mustangs, with the rematch set for Jan. 26.
A loud, boisterous crowd enjoyed the way the Mustangs played throughout the first half.
With aggressive play, Marcellus did an admirable job solving Westhill's vaunted man-to-man defense. With Nolan and Will Fiacchi leading the way, the Mustangs took a 27-23 lead to the break.
Little changed in the third quarter, except that the Warriors regained its defensive swagger, holding Marcellus to eight points as it crept within two, 35-33.
Dan Ross helped Westhill seize the lead in the fourth quarter, his drives to the basket leading to field goals and foul shots.
Yet it was Mike McMullen that hit the game's biggest basket, a 3-pointer from the corner as the shot clock was running low late in regulation. It gave Westhill enough cushion to withstand Fiacchi's own 3-pointer as Ross made the clinching free throws.
Overall, Ross had 21 points, while J.T. Alcaro earned nine points. McMullen and Nathan Nigolian earned eight points apiece. On the Mustangs' side, Fiacchi had 17 points, with Nolan contributing 11 points.
A few miles down the road, the Westhill girls, who had alreqady knocked off Bishop Ludden and Jordan-Elbridge in the previous week, now faced Marcellus, who was 9-2 and out to avenge a Dec. 4 defeat to the Warriors.