In an instant Thursday night, Molly Hourigan fell to the court, took her time getting up, went to the sidelines - and the Jordan-Elbridge girls basketball team's championship ambitions got thrown into question.
The large story that emerged out of the Eagles' 52-39 loss to Cazenovia at Buckley Gym was not that J-E's seven-game win streak came to an end, or that the Lakers stayed undefeated and moved into sole possession of first place in the OHSL Liberty division.
It was that Hourigan, the Eagles' imposing junior center who had made triple doubles in points, rebounds and blocks a routine matter early this season, left the game early in the fourth quarter with a hyperextended knee. Without Hourigan to worry about, Cazenovia outscored J-E 20-2 down the stretch.
Going in, it looked like the Eagles had all the advantages. It was at full strength, while Cazenovia had to play without starting forward Ellen Burr, out with an illness. But the Lakers were used to missing players in the lineup, having started 8-0 even though its top player, Ashley Stec (who is going to Manhattan College next year), missed five games due to an ankle injury.
J-E trailed 8-2 in the first quarter when it rattled off eight straight points, four of them from Hourigan, who included a block, rebound and steal during that stretch. But the Eagles still trailed 13-12 after one period, and had to play the rest of the half without senior forward Kelsey Richardson, who picked up three fouls.
But Hourigan continued to produce inside, finishing with 12 first-half points. That, plus timely shots from Kali Davis, helped J-E go to halftime with a 25-22 lead, and Davis stayed hot in the third quarter, getting seven of her 16 points.
When Davis sank another 3-pointer with 7:39 to play, the Eagles extended its lead to 37-32 - and would not get another field goal the rest of the night as, a minute later, Hourigan, who only had two points in the second half, fell hard to the court while scrambling for a loose ball, then hobbled off and did not return.
Cazenovia took over, as Raeanne Clabeaux notched 10 of her game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter and Stec added 13 points. With or without Hourigan, J-E is in action next week against Hannibal and Skaneateles.