In the two days leading up to the long holiday break, four of the area’s high school boys basketball teams would face each other, looking for some momentum and local bragging rights.
That would culminate on Friday with Westhill taking on Marcellus, the first time these neighbors had met since the Mustangs prevailed 43-35 in last season’s Section III Class B quarterfinal.
This time, though, the Warriors would claim a 53-41 victory, in large part because of the defense it played for much of the night.
Marcellus didn’t score more than 10 points in any single period until the fourth. Westhill took advantage of this, steadily working its way to a 34-17 halftime edge, more than the inconsistent Mustangs could overcome.
Just as importantly, the Warriors’ attack showed balance beyond Jordan Roland, who still led with 13 points. William Billy picked up 10 points, while Jackson Haber had nine points. Tyler Reynolds (eight points) and Pete Valenti (six points) were close behind.
Not until the fourth quarter did Marcellus produce with any consistency, and by then it was too late to catch up. Cole Walsh led with 10 points, with Mike Hastings adding eight points and Wyatt Stehle contributing six points.
A day earlier, Solvay hosted Jordan-Elbridge, and the Eagles never recovered from an early offensive drought, taking a 65-42 loss to the Bearcats.
Solvay, who had started 0-4 before beating Institute of Technology Central on Dec. 18, never gave J-E much room to operate during that pivotal first quarter. All that the Eagles could manage was just three points.
As a result, Solvay had a chance to overcome its early offensive inconsistency and, by halftime, steadily had gained a 26-16 lead. Any doubts about the outcome got erased when the Bearcats got active on both ends and outscored J-E 20-12 in the third quarter.
Nick Filippi led the charge, getting 21 points and adding five assists. Sal Tartaro picked up 13 points, most of it from a trio of 3-pointers, while Brandon Pelose had six points.
J-E, in defeat, saw Kyle Matousek pick up 16 points, matching Tartaro with three 3-pointers of his own. Zach Wagner got seven of his 15 points at the free-throw line as Jared Bard added 10 points.