SYRACUSE A 7-0 start pushed the Westhill girls basketball team into the state Class B top five, a place it has known well through the years.
Now the trick was to maintain that high mark as the OHSL Liberty division schedule got tougher. That started with Tuesday night’s short road trip to Bishop Ludden, where the Warriors, fueled by big performances from Maggie Tripodi and Anna Ross, beat the Gaelic Knights 69-63.
Ludden entered the game on a high note, having beaten Jordan-Elbridge on its way to the first-place trophy in the Dec. 28-29 Watkins Glen Tournament. And it jumped on Westhill, too, solving the Warriors’ 1-3-1 zone defense with plenty of baskets as it gained a 20-14 lead by the end of the first quarter.
So Westhill switched to man-to-man pressure, and it led to a total domination of the second quarter as the Warriors constantly forced turnovers and went on a 21-5 spurt.
From there, the game turned into a chase. Twice in the second half, Ludden would get close, moving with 38-35 in the third quarter and 57-53 with less than five minutes left.
Both times, the Warriors answered, in the latter case using a 3-pointer from Tripodi to set up the decisive push. Ross hit a lay-up, was fouled and gained extra free throws when a technical foul was assessed to Ludden coach Jerry Roesch. Ross converted the foul shots, capping an 8-0 run.
All told, Ross earned 10 of her 23 points at the foul line, but Tripodi was even better, setting a career mark with 25 points that included four 3-pointers. Sam Peebles hit a trio of 3-pointers to account for most of her 10 points as Gwen Dougherty added seven points.
For the Gaelic Knights, Nicole Granteed led the way, her 22 points also a career best. Kayla Kibling chimed in with 16 points, while Kelly Granteed had nine points and Lauren Roy added eight points.
Ludden, after beating J-E, had beaten host Watkins Glen 58-42 in that tournament final on Dec. 30, breaking a 12-12 tie by outscoring Watkins Glen 37-17 in the second and third periods.
Kibling, with 14 points, led a well-balanced attack as Kelly Granteed, Nicole Barletta (11 points each) and Roy (10 points) also hit double figures. Nicole Granteed added eight points.