Feb 15, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Anna Ross may not have minded it had the Westhill girls basketball team needed to wait to face Marcellus in the opening round of the Section III Class B playoffs, the way so many others had to after heavy winter snows forced a rash of postponements.
But there was no delay for the no. 3 seed Warriors, so it took to the court Friday night and, with Ross playing through a knee injury, put away the no. 14 seed Mustangs 59-38.
It was challenging enough for Westhill to face, for the third time this season, a Marcellus side that had pushed them hard in both of their regular-season encounters, though the Warriors prevailed each time – 47-38 on Dec. 13, and 57-49 on Jan. 24.
What added to the drama was the fact that Ross, the Warriors’ senior standout heading to the University of Pennsylvania, injured her left knee in her team’s 50-26 win over Solvay last Monday night.
Though there were concerns that Ross had torn a ligament, it turned out that it was only a sprained MCL. Still, Ross was on crutches just two days before playing Marcellus.
By the time they tipped off, though, Ross, wearing a knee brace, was starting – and she would play the entire game, which, ironically enough, didn’t turn out as close as those first two with Marcellus.
Both teams were cold at the start, but the Mustangs’ shooting woes lingered throughout the first half, giving Westhill ample time to ramp up its attack. And with a 17-6 push through the second quarter, the Warriors did just that, seizing a 25-13 edge going into halftime.
As it turned out, Marcellus had squandered its best opportunity, for the Warriors pulled further away in the second half, aided by a defense that has played its best basketball in recent weeks, taking every opponent out of its comfort zone.
Ross, despite her bad knee, still had 13 points and contributed in all other phases of the game, too. Fellow senior Sam Peebles gladly took on a larger role and finished with 22 points, while Delaney Martin managed 12 points and Mary Kate Washburn had eight points.
Marcellus, whose season ended with a 10-9 mark, had Molly MacLachlan (12 points) and Lauren Soule (10 points) reach double figures, while Morgan DeLand had six points. Westhill’s defense took away the Mustangs’ inside game, holding Shelby Nye and Erica Balman to a combined four points.
Westhill now would get no. 6 seed Bishop Grimes, a team it also beat twice in the regular season, in next Tuesday’s Class B quarterfinal after the Cobras fought past General Brown 59-45.The winner gts to Friday’s semifinal against South Jefferson (who barely got past Cazenovia 49-48 in the opening round) or Altmar-Parish-Williamstown.
Bishop Ludden, as the no. 8 seed in Class B, did have to wait until Saturday to play its opening-round game against no. 9 seed Hannibal, but that did not keep the Gaelic Knights from getting payback in a 58-47 victory that featured superb performances from Sara Hayes and Danielle Rauch.
Ludden vividly remembered how Hannibal beat them 51-46 on Jan. 13, in large part due to the 27 points that Devin Sorrell scored.
And the rematch was heading on that same track, Hannibal battling its way to a 23-22 halftime lead by doing an effective job in the paint against the senior forward duo of Gemma O’Kane and Nicole Granteed, who would manage just three field goals between them.
With both Granteed and Rauch in foul trouble and sitting for large stretches of the third quarter, Hayes took over, outscoring Hannibal all by herself with 11 points to the Warriors’ nine, and it put the Gaelic Knights ahead to stay.
Hayes finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Rauch would also get 20 points, plus six rebounds and five assists, while Granteed managed eight rebounds and O’Kane seven points. Other than Sorrell, who had 21 points, no Hannibal player scored in double figures as Ludden’s defense traded off Sorrell’s production to make sure her teammates were contained.
Ludden now goes after 19-0 top seed Sherburne-Earlville in the Class B quarterfinals, hoping that its battle-tested character would produce an upset and a semifinal berth against defending champion Utica-Notre Dame or Skaneateles.