It wasn’t stressing the point too strongly to suggest that, when the West Genesee girls basketball team met Nottingham last Thursday night, it faced a season crossroads.
And perhaps that urgency, plus playing at home, helped the Wildcats, especially on the defensive end, as it recorded a 48-39 victory over the Bulldogs.
Though the Wildcats were 7-3, it still found itself frustrated against top Class AA opponents, as it discovered two nights earlier during a 50-44 road defeat to Fayetteville-Manlius.
This was WG’s chance to avenge a 53-49 home loss to those same Hornets on Dec. 15, and it did a fine defensive job in the first quarter, holding F-M to seven points.
But the Wildcats were colder, only managing five points, and though both sides picked up their production the rest of the half, WG went to the break trailing 25-21.
A large reason why the Wildcats could not come back was the struggles of Vicki Graveline, whom F-M held to four points, well below her season average.
Thus, Melissa Fumano, with 17 points, was the only WG player in double figures as Marissa Hudgins got eight points and Grace Osterdale added six points. F-M, meanwhile, answered every Wildcat surge with another basket from Madison Beck, who poured in 23 points, or a key shot from Lauren Getman, who managed 19 points.
This led to the Nottingham game, and in the first quarter the Wildcats instantly provided a better start, moving to a 14-9 lead and maintaining it the rest of the half.
But the real damage came in the third quarter. Applying all-out defensive pressure, WG forced the Bulldogs into a series of mistakes, translating into a decisive 18-4 push that built the margin to 43-24, out of Nottingham’s reach.
Fumano remained consistent on the offensive end, finishing with 16 points, with Graveline bouncing back to get 10 points as Jackie Pardee stepped up for nine points and Hannah Bakowski added six points. Just as important was the work Hudgins did on the board as she recorded 11 rebounds.
Now the Wildcats get a chance to build up some momentum in games against Auburn and Henninger before the Jan. 29 clash with two-time defending state champion Cicero-North Syracuse.