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Westhill girls handle Marcellus in Class B opener

Ludden turns to Hayes, Rauch to eliminate Hannibal

— 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.

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