In ways both stressful and otherwise, West Genesee’s basketball teams each engineered important victories over Nottingham in their respective 2014 debuts.
For the girls Wildcats, it was a particularly important result as it won the clash of prime Class AA contenders 51-48 over the Bulldogs Wednesday night, but not without a massive scare at the end.
Through a low-scoring first half, both defenses generally controlled matters. WG, off since a Dec. 27 win over Rome Free Academy, grabbed an early lead, only to have Nottingham step up in the second quarter and inch ahead, 22-20, by the time they reached the break.
In what looked to be a pivotal third quarter, the Wildcats started to produce on a consistent basis, fighting its way back in front, 38-34. And that carried over into the final period, too, WG calmly turning back all of Nottingham’s pressure.
So when Grace Osterdale scored off a fine feed from Melissa Fumano with little more than a minute to play, the Wildcats expanded its lead to 48-39. And then it nearly fell apart.
Applying all-out pressure, Nottingham forced three consecutive turnovers, converting each of them into points on the other end. By the time WG could regroup, the Bulldogs had pulled even, 48-48, on Shauntesha Bryant’s pair of free throws with 21.1 seconds left.
At last, WG broke the pressure, leading Nottingham to foul Courtney Shoults with 9.4 seconds to play. Shoults, who had just one field goal to that point, had two free throws and made one of them to put WG back in front, 49-48.
With a chance to pull off an improbable comeback victory, the Bulldogs instead turned it over again, and Fumano’s free throws created the final margin.
All told, Fumano had 19 points and six rebounds. Osterdale impressed, too, with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Marissa Hudgins had 12 points. Bryant, with 11 points, and Necedah James, with 13 points, led Nottingham’s effort.