Onondaga For a half, all went to plan for the Bishop Grimes girls basketball team in Saturday night's Section III Class B semifinal. It was just the second half that proved to be the Cobras' undoing.
Utica-Notre Dame shut down Grimes in those last two periods, roaring from behind to beat the Cobras 55-41 at Onondaga Community College's SRC Arena to advance to the title game in the Carrier Dome against defending champion South Jefferson.
The no. 7 seed Jugglers limited the no. 6 seed Cobras to only 14 second half points after Grimes led, 27-24, at intermission.
“The biggest thing was we stopped putting the ball in the basket,” Cobras coach John Cifonelli said. “I thought we got some pretty good looks. We just could not finish to save our lives.”
Cifonelli’s crew looked good at the start. Grimes matched Notre Dame with 16 first-quarter points. The second quarter featured four lead changes before the Cobras took its three point edge to the break.
Grimes also started the second half well, scoring five points in the opening two minutes. But it soon faltered and the Jugglers took full advantage.
UND went on a decisive 9-0 run to grab a lead (40-32) it never relinquished. The closest the Cobras would get the rest of the way was seven points (42-35).
“I credit our girls with their defensive effort,” Jugglers coach Michael Plonisch said. “Our defense usually leads to our offense in transition. We got a couple of easy baskets that got us going a little bit.”
To its credit, Grimes did a good job on UND's top player, Emily Durr. The junior standout finished with 18 points, but had to work hard for each of them.
Cobras’ forward Alex Guhin scored all of her team-high 14 points in the first half. Jordan Vaught and Tina Hoag both dropped in 10 points.
Grimes finished its season at 16-5. Ciffonelli was pleased with that.
“I thought it was a great year for us,” he said. “I don’t think people expected a lot out of us considering where we’ve been the last two years.
"To be here and to be giving Notre Dame the game we gave them, I think we’ve reestablished ourselves that we are a solid program. When the hurt of tonight is over I think the kids will be extremely proud of what we’ve done this year.”