Girls Wildcats' comeback leads to AA finals berth

West Genny beats RFA, to face C-NS for sectional title

— Jackie Pardee knew her West Genesee girls basketball team needed a spark after going into halftime down 21-12 to Rome Free Academy in the Section III Class AA semifinals at Onondaga Community College's Allyn Hall.

So the senior sharpshooter flipped the switch and hit three 3-pointers in the third quarter, which helped push the Wildcats past the Black Knights 51-41 and earn a trip to the Carrier Dome to try and dethrone five-time champion Cicero-North Syracuse in next Friday's sectional final.

“Shooting threes is something I’ve worked on a lot,” Pardee said. "And I was ready to go in and make a few for us."

It was an uphill battle for the Wildcats after a poor first-half showing. RFA established most of its lead in the second quarter, as Tiana Pugh and Tricia Loso scored all 12 of the Black Knights' points and took a 21-13 lead going into halfitme.

WG head coach Dan Hallinan counted 13 unforced turnovers in the half, and said his team needed to find a way to stop Pugh and Loso from taking over the game.

“We played terrible the first half,” he said. “We had as many turnovers as points. It was rough.”

But the Wildcats switched from a 1-3-1 to a zone defense after the break, and effectively executed a full-court press to stop the Black Knights from regaining any momentum.

Combine that with Pardee’s 11 third quarter points, and WG not only came back to tie the game with 1:53 left in the period, but inched into a 34-32 lead heading into the fourth.

“I told them ‘I’m feeling it right now,’ “ Pardee said. “I’m just lucky I was on today.”

After her fifth 3-pointer extended WG's lead, the Black Knights began double-teaming Pardee on the perimeter, opening up the rest of the court for her teammates to score. Courtney Shoults, Melissa Fumano and Melissa Bakowski finished off the Black Knights with an 18-9 run to end the game.

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