Jan 01, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
In the course of working through its own holiday tournament, the Bishop Grimes girls basketball team had more on the plate than just staying undefeated.
When the Cobras defeated Solvay, 56-26, in Thursday night’s opening round, it gave head coach John Cifonelli his 200th victory with the team.
Grimes’ 6-0 start had earned it the no. 14 spot in the initial state Class B rankings of the season, joining Utica-Notre Dame (no. 4), Westhill (no. 6) and South Jefferson (no. 7) among Section III teams in that poll.
Now the Cobras had to back up that status, and Solvay, at 2-4, did not offer major resistance. Grimes bolted to a 15-3 lead with a barrage of 3-pointers from Amelia Heiselman, Lauren Vaughan and Jordan Vaught and dominated the entire first half, not letting up until it had a 33-11 margin at the break.
Heiselman, resuming the hot form she showed when hitting 28 3-pointers in her team’s first four games, connected four times beyond the arc on her way to 16 points. Vaughan’s 11 points set a career mark and Vaught contributed 10 points. Megan Driscoll added seven points.
With that win, and Cifonelli’s milestone, out of the way, Grimes turned toward a tough final Friday night against 4-1 Rochester Mercy, who had blitzed Watertown IHC 66-34 in the other part of the opening round.
Yet the Cobras passed the test again, beating Mercy 54-47 in what was an exciting, fast-paced affair that tested Grimes’ ability to perform down the stretch.
It didn’t start out stressful, with the Cobras leaning on Erannan Shattuck’s strong inside play (she had 10 of her 13 points in the first half) to jump out to a 23-14 lead by the end of the first quarter.
When Mercy switched from a zone to a man-to-man defense, Grimes adjusted, freeing up open looks for Heiselman, who hit three 3-pointers in the opening half. Alex Guhin added six of her 10 points as, at the break, the Cobras held a 37-28 edge.
Now the Monarchs went to a trap, and that slowed Grimes down for much of the second half. In the meantime, Mercy used its inside size advantage to garner all kinds of easy baskets and, by the fourth quarter, were in front.
Trailing 45-42 with less than five minutes left, and with it unbeaten mark in jeopardy, Grimes would make an inspired finishing run, starting with Guhin getting open for back-to-back backdoor layups.
Then, with two minutes left and up by two, 47-45, the Cobras snared a couple of offensive rebounds, giving Vaughan a chance to hit a deep 3-pointer to stretch the margin to five.
Heiselman and Vaughan both hit free throws in the final minute to put the game away. With her 11 points and stellar defensive work, Heiselman nabbed tournament MVP honors as Vaughan (named to the All-Tournament team) added nine points and Hoag got six points. IHC beat Solvay 47-40 in the consolation game.
Grimes goes for eight in a row Tuesday, in a non-league game at Central Square, before a crucial contest Thursday against Bishop Ludden, who enters the week 7-1 but faces both the Cobras and undefeated Westhill.