SYRACUSE Right to the last possession, the Westhill and West Genesee girls basketball team made Monday night's neighborhood clash a memorable one.
Not until the Wildcats were unable to get off a shot in the waning seconds were the Warriors able to escape and preserve a 58-56 victory in the first of two regular-season meetings.
Off to a 2-0 start with impressive wins over Fayetteville-Manlius and Utica Proctor, WG was, once again, establishing itself as a prime Class AA contender. And it started out showing every intention of making it three in a row at Westhill's expense.
Though the Warriors scored the game's first four points, the Wildcats countered with a 16-2 run that covered most of the first quarter, with four points apiece from Marissa Hudgins and Melissa Fumano.
Absorbing this, Westhill waited until the second period to round into its form. That involved seniors Anna Ross and Sam Peebles anchoring a defense that applied intense half-court pressure, leading to a Wildcats scoring drought that covered four minutes.
Meanwhile, sophomore Delaney Martin was spearheading the Warriors' attack, getting 12 first-half points. When Peebles hit a lay-up just before the horn, the two sides were tied, 24-24, at halftime.
The tempo picked up in a big way during the third quarter, and both sides nearly doubled their production. Martin stayed hot, adding 10 more points, including a pair of 3-pointers, to give her 22 for the night.
But WG answered every time, Fumano tacking on eight more points, and though the Wildcats trailed most of the period, it never fell behind more than four, and went to the final period only down by a point, 46-45.
As the Warriors' defense reasserted itself early in the fourth quarter, it again forced WG without a field goal for nearly four minutes. Ross also heated up on the other end, getting eight of her 16 points in the fourth quarter.