Jan 29, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Though it might not always manifest itself on the scoreboard, there’s little doubt that the Westhill boys basketball team is rounding into better form and looming as a threat for the Section III Class B playoffs in a couple of weeks’ time.
Still, it had to hurt the Warriors to squander a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s 48-46 overtime defeat to Cazenovia.
Cazenovia, at 10-3 and seeking its own big win to break out as a sectional contender, did not get rattled when Westhill, using a 15-2 run, took a 36-27 lead midway through the fourth quarter of what, to that point, had been a contest dominated by both defenses.
The Lakers, who make no secret of how it emulates Westhill’s man-to-man pressure, had led throughout the first half, the defensive presence so strong that the Warriors felt it even with open looks near the basket, leading to misses of high-percentage shots.
When those shots started to fall, though, the Lakers appeared in trouble – until Tanner Whiteman, sinking a 3-pointer with 4:15 left to make it 36-30, launched the Lakers’ rally.
Again, the defense stood out, holding Westhill without a field goal in the last 5:10 of regulation as a series of free throws from Whiteman and Chad Warren closed the gap to 39-36.
Then, with 25 seconds left, Whiteman took a contested 3-pointer from the far left corner – and sank it to forge a 39-39 tie. Westhill could not manage a shot in the ensuing possession as time ran out, leading to overtime.
In the four-minute extra period, Warren’s free throws, plus a layup from Whiteman, put the Lakers back in front. Westhill closed to 45-44, but Warren, who finished with 12 points, hit a key basket with 50 seconds left to stretch the margin back to three.
They traded foul shots until, with four seconds left, Westhill’s Joe Meluni sank two of them to cut the margin to 47-46. Immediately fouled, Kevin Hopsicker made one of his two free throws, and the Warriors’ last desperation attempt fell short.
Whiteman, overall, led both sides with 19 points. Hopsicker matched Warren with 12 points of his own. Ryan Conroy paced Westhill with 14 points as Meluni contributed 10 points.
Following up on nail-biting defeats to OHSL Liberty division leaders Bishop Grimes and Bishop Ludden (the latter lost on a 3-pointer by Cameron Littlejohn at the buzzer), the Warriors stepped out last Tuesday and ripped past Skaneateles 69-46.
These same Lakers had beaten Westhill 58-45 on Dec. 23. Just a month later, though, the equation had changed, especially since the Lakers’ top shooting threat, Jimmy Atkinson, was recuperating from an ankle sprain and only saw one quarter of action in the rematch.
Hot outside shooting helped push the Warriors along, providing answers every time Skaneateles threatened. Westhill’s lead grew to 35-27 by halftime, and it closed the game on an 18-4 spurt to pull further away.
Four players scored in double figures, led by Jake Redmond, whose 16 points included four 3-pointers. Jordan Roland and P.J. Gebhardt each connected three times beyond the arc, both of them finishing with 13 points as Conroy added 10 points.
Jacob Nigolian dominated on the boards, amassing 16 rebounds to go with his eight points, while Meluni nearly got a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
While all this went on, Westhill’s girls basketball team moved two steps closer to an undefeated regular season.
The state Class B no. 6-ranked Warriors went to Skaneateles and handled the Lakers 59-44 last Tuesday, though it really wasn’t that close. Westhill opened on an 18-7 spurt, and kept adding to the margin until it enjoyed a 48-24 lead at the end of the third period.
Anna Ross poured in 20 points, with Sam Peebles close behind as she got 18 points. Gwen Dougherty (10 points) also hit double figures as Maggie Tripodi chimed in with eight points. For Skaneateles, Joanna Dobrovosky finished with 14 points, while Jackie Leslie added 12 points.
The Warriors then went to Cazenovia Thursday and ripped past those other Lakers 50-30, mainly fueled by the way the game started.
Fired up to try and inch closer to a post-season berth, Cazenovia grabbed a 15-14 lead by the end of the first quarter. All that did, though, was fire up the Warriors’ defense, which proceeded to blank the Lakers in the second period, a 15-0 outburst that all but decided matters.
Peebles finished with 18 points, while Ross landed 11 points and Tripodi hit a pair of 3-pointers on her way to 10 points. Dougherty and Kelly Mascari produced five points apiece.