All of the battles fought within the OHSL Liberty division steeled the Bishop Grimes girls basketball team for what it would face once the Section III Class B playoffs got underway.
And now the no. 6 seed Cobras are two wins away from the title, having gone to Holland Patent and held off the no. 3 seed Golden Knights 55-53 in Thursday night's Class B quarterfinal.
A lot had taken place in the six days since Grimes beat General Brown 60-48 in the opening round on Feb. 15. First, the Cobras saw its trip to HP delayed twice by bad weather.
During that delay, Grimes watched as Westhill, the no. 2 seed, got ousted by no. 7 seed Utica-Notre Dame 60-40, opening up the bottom half of the sectional tournament bracket for the Cobras, if it could solve the Golden Knights' strong, interior-based attack led by Allison Friermuth and Korey Bunal.
That didn't prove tough in the early going. Grimes held Friermuth, averaging 20 points per game this season, without a basket in the first quarter, and the Cobras made shots to counter HP's zone defense and bolt to a 14-7 lead by the end of the period.
Grimes remained steady the rest of the half, turning defensive pressure into baskets on the other end, even as the Golden Knights started to score on a regular basis. As a result, the Cobras had a 28-19 lead at the break.
Early in the second half, Grimes' lead got to double digits, but HP didn't surrender, instead starting to make its own string of outside shots late in the period to pull within three, 38-35, seizing the momentum going to the fourth quarter.
Staying poised, Grimes turned to Jordan Vaught, its hottest player in recent weeks, who sank key baskets in the stretch, as did Maria Gronau, restoring some of the Cobras' margin.