Though it possessed a 6-0 record, the Christian Brothers Academy girls basketball team would learn a lot about where it stood once the Rome Free Academy Tournament was completed.
It started with Thursday’s opening-round game against fellow Class AA contender West Genesee. With a spirited comeback and a more diverse attack than it has shown at times this winter, the Brothers fought past the Wildcats 51-50.
Not once this season had CBA started poorly, but it did so here, WG jumping out to an 18-7 edge. For the next two periods, the Brothers slowly ate away at that deficit, and two things happened.
First, CBA’s defense kept WG’s supporting cast quiet. Other than Vicki Graveline (18 points) and Melissa Fumano (14 points), no other Wildcat player had more than one field goal.
Second, the Brothers made WG pay for the way they went after Marisa Romeo. Of Romeo’s 11 points, seven of them came at the foul line, so other players had to step up – and they did.
Julie Cuomo would produce 16 points, while Alyssa Pitonzo managed nine points and Olivia Pitonzo added eight points. Together, they helped CBA erase a 41-38 deficit in the final period, grabbing the lead and hanging on.
For Friday’s final, CBA met host Rome Free Academy. Perhaps the battle with West Genesee took a toll on the Brothers, who could not replicate that effort against the Black Knights and, by a 46-38 margin, took its first defeat of the season.
RFA slowed things down, especially after it doubled CBA’s total and took a 16-8 lead by the end of the first quarter. Over the course of the next two periods, the Brothers had many chances, but could not convert, so it was still behind 29-27 going to the fourth quarter.
Once there, the Black Knights would pull clear, led by Kristen Anken, who finished with 17 points. RFA also took a different defensive approach, mostly leaving Romeo alone as she got 21 points, but shutting everyone else down. Neither of the Pitonzo sisters made a basket, and Cuomo only managed one field goal.