SYRACUSE For the third year in a row, the Fayetteville-Manlius girls basketball team saw its season halted one win short of an appearance in the Section III Class AA title game.
Itching to appear in this year’s final in the Carrier Dome, the no. 2 seed Hornets led for long portions of Tuesday night’s AA semifinal against no. 3 seed West Genesee at SRC Arena, only to fall victim to a late Wildcat surge that led to a 52-46 defeat.
These two sides had first met Jan. 31 in Camillus, a game where F-M won 49-41, overcoming Kiley Shoemaker’s foul trouble with strong defense that forced WG into a cold-shooting night.
Three and a half weeks later, the rematch proved even closer. After trailing through most of the first quarter, the Wildcats seized a 19-15 lead midway through the second period as Vicki Graveline, with nine points, and Melissa Fumano, with six points, set the early pace.
F-M, led by Shoemaker's nine points, charged in front 20-19 by halftime, and in the third quarter the margin grew to 31-26. The Hornets had chances to move even further ahead, but could not – and would rue those missed chances later.
In fact, after Alexis Rios hit a 3-pointer with 3:13 left in that period, WG would not allow another Hornet field goal for the next nine-plus minutes, during which time it went on an 18-2 run that stretched deep into the fourth quarter.
On the defensive side, the Wildcats' pair of senior guards, Emily Tripodi and Kara Datellas, joined with sophomore Marissa Hudgins as they locked down on Rios, Charlotte Beers and Lauren Getman, wearing them down with pressure and forcing a series of turnovers and bad shots. Tripodi finished with four steals as Hudgins had nine rebounds to go with her six points before fouling out.