Mar 05, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
From a 6-12 mark a season ago, the West Genesee girls basketball team made a turnaround this winter that was nothing short of remarkable, going all the way to the Section III Class AA finals.
Here, the ride ended, as Breanna Stewart and defending state champion Cicero-North Syracuse beat the Wildcats 69-31 last Friday night at the Carrier Dome, but that result could not disguise the overall accomplishments.
“My kids battled,” said Wildcat head coach Dan Hallinan. “We did not play scared and we played hard.”
West Genesee had not won a sectional title since 1994. And the odds were long here, especially considering that C-NS had throttled them 89-31 in their lone regular-season encounter in January.
It didn’t help, either, that Melissa Fumano, WG’s star sophomore forward, was out of action, attending the wedding of her brother, planned long before the Wildcats made it to the sectional final.
Fans from Camillus arrived in the Dome donning gold “Duel in the Dome” T-shirts, and were encouraged by an ice-cold from the Northstars, who did not have a point in the first 2:45 before Sarah Bowles hit on a breakaway layup.
From there, though, it didn’t take long for the duel to turn into another clinical exhibition of all-around play from the defending state AA champions.
After every made basket and free throw, the Northstars unleashed its full-court pressure, contesting every inch and forcing WG into turnovers. Even when the Wildcats got shots, Stewart would block them, or on three occasions the 30-second shot clock would run out.
Abbey Timpano hit on back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the first quarter to key a 14-0 spurt. Not until the last minute of the period did the Wildcats get a field goal, which made it 14-3.
Held without a field goal in that first quarter, Stewart quickly made up for it by getting 14 of her team’s first 16 points in the second period on everything from rebound baskets to a 3-pointer from the top of the key. She also made all six of her free-throw attempts in the half.
It wasn’t a one-player effort, either. Timpano and Bowles both had eight points in the half. But Stewart’s second 3-pointer, which gave her 17 for the period and 21 points overall, and a deft pass to Elizabeth Miles for an open layup just before the horn, made it 41-13 at the break.
To its credit, WG’s effort never wavered, as it stayed closer to the Northstars for a longer period than other local opponents.
Emily Tripodi garnered All-Tournament honors for her defense throughout the sectional playoffs and also had five points. Kerri Taylor paced WG with eight points, while Kara Datellas had seven points. Vicki Graveline managed six points and Marissa Hudgins joined Tripodi with five points.
Still, the Northstars proved too tough, as Stewart, who finished with 30 points, left the game early in the fourth quarter, having garnered tournament MVP honors. Bowles (who had 13 points) and Timpano (who got eight points) joined Stewart on the All-Tournament team.
Overall, the Wildcats’ 16-5 mark could only prove the beginning of a long run at the top. Fumano, Graveline and Hudgins return next season, though the departures of Tripodi, Datellas, Taylor and Allie Theberge will be difficult to absorb.
On the other hand, Stewart will be gone, to the University of Connecticut, and that alone might give West Genesee – and every other AA team – a new reason to hope.