East Syracuse In the course of working through its own holiday tournament, the Bishop Grimes girls basketball team had more on the plate than just staying undefeated.
When the Cobras defeated Solvay, 56-26, in Thursday night’s opening round, it gave head coach John Cifonelli his 200th victory with the team.
Grimes’ 6-0 start had earned it the no. 14 spot in the initial state Class B rankings of the season, joining Utica-Notre Dame (no. 4), Westhill (no. 6) and South Jefferson (no. 7) among Section III teams in that poll.
Now the Cobras had to back up that status, and Solvay, at 2-4, did not offer major resistance. Grimes bolted to a 15-3 lead with a barrage of 3-pointers from Amelia Heiselman, Lauren Vaughan and Jordan Vaught and dominated the entire first half, not letting up until it had a 33-11 margin at the break.
Heiselman, resuming the hot form she showed when hitting 28 3-pointers in her team’s first four games, connected four times beyond the arc on her way to 16 points. Vaughan’s 11 points set a career mark and Vaught contributed 10 points. Megan Driscoll added seven points.
With that win, and Cifonelli’s milestone, out of the way, Grimes turned toward a tough final Friday night against 4-1 Rochester Mercy, who had blitzed Watertown IHC 66-34 in the other part of the opening round.
Yet the Cobras passed the test again, beating Mercy 54-47 in what was an exciting, fast-paced affair that tested Grimes’ ability to perform down the stretch.
It didn’t start out stressful, with the Cobras leaning on Erannan Shattuck’s strong inside play (she had 10 of her 13 points in the first half) to jump out to a 23-14 lead by the end of the first quarter.
When Mercy switched from a zone to a man-to-man defense, Grimes adjusted, freeing up open looks for Heiselman, who hit three 3-pointers in the opening half. Alex Guhin added six of her 10 points as, at the break, the Cobras held a 37-28 edge.