What was gained by the Jordan-Elbridge girls basketball team Thursday night had an immediate benefit - and could prove a long-term benefit, too, as the Section III Class B playoffs loom.
On a loud, raucous Senior Night in front of a packed home gym of partisans, the state Class B no. 20-ranked Eagles denied no. 10-ranked Cazenovia an undefeated regular season, beating the Lakers 50-40 with superb defense and a triple-double of 21 points, 12 blocks and 10 rebounds from junior center Molly Hourigan.
"We were all pumped up and excited for this game, and we gave a great effort," said Hourigan.
J-E had waited for more than a month to get another shot at Cazenovia. The first time they had met, on Jan. 13 at Buckley Gym, the game was close in the fourth quarter when Hourigan got sidelined with a leg injury - and the Lakers promptly pulled away to win 52-39.
That the rematch went in the other direction, almost to the letter, was partially because Hourigan stayed on the court the whole time - but mostly because the Eagles' 2-3 zone exasperated, and then exhausted, Cazenovia, especially in the latter stages.
Six seniors - Natalie Andrianos, Kali Davis, Kelsey Richardson, Liz Herrling, Erin McLaughiln and Ella Thorpe - received their pre-game honors, but it did nothing to lessen the Eagles' focus as it jumped out to a 20-12 lead early in the second quarter.
Led by Raeanne Clabeaux, who would finish with 19 points, the Lakers fought back, pulling within two, 26-24, at halftime, then moving out in front 30-26 in the third period as, early in that frame, Hourigan picked up her third foul.
Despite this, Hourigan stayed out on the court, and would never get that fourth foul. "I never lost hope," she said. "I just kept fighting and playing smarter to avoid fouls."