SYRACUSE Both the Westhill and Bishop Ludden girls basketball teams could take some positive solace out of Monday night's neighborhood showdown.
The Warriors could point to an overwhelming start that laid the foundation for a 54-40 victory, while the Gaelic Knights could take solace from the way it responded to a massive early deficit.
Since Westhill had drilled Hannibal 65-15 in its Nov. 30 season opener, and since Ludden was stepping out for the first time this winter minus key players like Kayla Kibling and Lauren Roy that graduated from last year's squad, the first quarter took a predictable turn.
Ferocious half-court defensive pressure by the Warriors led to rushed Gaelic Knights shots and extra possessions on the other end. Never trailing, Westhill scored the game's first 12 points and blanked Ludden for more than four minutes before Nicole Granteed finally got her side on the board with a basket.
Yet that didn't slow the Warriors down, as the margin increased to 24-5 by the time the first quarter was done. By the middle of the second period, each of Westhill's starting five - Anna Ross, Sam Peeble, Maggie Tripodi, Kelly Mascari and Delaney Martin - had recorded at least two field goals.
From there, though, the Warriors' attack slowed down, and never really sped back up the rest of the game. Ludden dominated on the boards, and that started to pay off as, down 41-17 in the third period, the Gaelic Knights went on a 14-3 run to cut the margin to 44-31 early in the fourth quarter.
At that point, the Warriors shored up its defense enough to put the game out of reach, supporting an attack that remained well-balanced. Peebles and Tripodi both finished with 12 points, while Ross had 11 points and Martin finished with eight points.
Nicole Granteed led both sides, pouring in 18 points as her sister, Kelly, chimed in with eight points and Stephanie Brazell got seven points.
Ludden has its home opener Thursday against Skaneateles, while Westhill gets a big test Friday when it visits Bishop Grimes, who is off to its own fast start.