SYRACUSE One more major hurdle stood in the way of the Fayetteville-Manlius girls basketball team before its Jan. 3 showdown with Breanna Stewart and Cicero-North Syracuse.
And the Hornets would surmount that obstacle, going to Bishop Ludden Tuesday and giving the 5-0 Gaelic Knights its first loss of the season, prevailing by a score of 59-48.
Ludden had built its five-game win streak against Class B opponents in the OHSL Liberty division, but still boasted one of the area's strongest starting fives, giving F-M's defense lots to think about.
Still, the Hornets resisted well throughout the first half and took a 24-20 lead to the break. Unfazed by this, the Gaelic Knights zoomed into a 38-36 lead in the third quarter, getting everyone involved as, by game's end, all five starters had at least seven points.
The fact that F-M had more of an effective bench would pay off, though, in the fourth quarter, as reserves Erica Assimon and Madison Beck both sank crucial baskets. Thanks to this, the Hornets reclaimed the lead and, in the waning minutes, shot effectively from the free-throw line to pull clear.
Charlotte Beers paced F-M with 16 points. Kiley Shoemaker contributed 11 points, while Assimon added a season-best 10 points. Lauren Getman (eight points) and Beck (six points) were close behind.
While Ludden spread its production around, only Lauren Roy, with 17 points, hit double figures. All of Kayla Kibling's nine points came from a trio of 3-pointers, with Natalie Barletta adding eight points. Nicole Granteed and Kelly Granteed had seven points apiece.
So F-M (6-1) will carry a six-game win streak to CNS to meet the defending state Class AA champion Northstars. Led by Stewart, who is going to the University of Connecticut next fall, CNS went 2-2 and earned a fourth-place finish at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona on Dec. 19-22 against the nation's best teams.