Dec 31, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
When it came to hosting its own Lady Cobra Holiday Tournament, the Bishop Grimes girls basketball team did not mess around, picking first-rate opponents to give itself the maximum challenge in the closing days of 2009.
What no one — even the Cobras — could have imagined was the way it would turn out.
As heavy underdogs in Wednesday night’s championship game against Rochester Mercy, Grimes came up with what head coach John Cifonelli said was the best performance of his entire 11-year tenure to beat Mercy 52-42.
The prestige of the opposition had much to do with this sentiment. Mercy came into the game 7-0 and ranked no. 3 in the latest state Class AA poll, and it had just crushed Watertown IHC in the tournament’s opening round.
Yet for a long time in this title game, a fired-up Grimes squad made Mercy look quite ordinary.
Applying its usual defensive pressure, the Cobras forced Mercy into all kinds of mistakes throughout the first half. All Mercy could manage was six points, a stark contrast from the 73 it registered against IHC.
Meanwhile, Grimes fully exploited Mercy’s zone defense in the first quarter, as Cady Kalemba and Amelia Heiselman hit four 3-pointers between them. That, plus sound rebounding (this despite Mercy’s height advantage), pushed Grimes to a 26-6 lead early in the third quarter.
Inevitably, Mercy began to eat away at the Cobras’ advantage, starting to hit shots and cutting the margin in half, to 31-21, by the start of the fourth quarter. When the margin shrank to four midway through the final period, Grimes looked to be in trouble.
But now the Cobras’ poise would shine through. Emma Kelley hit a pair of timely baskets. Amanda Marcely would continue to crash the boards. And Kalemba capped her tournament MVP performance by sinking four big free throws.
Overall, Kalemba had 17 points, a new career high, while Heiselman sank two more 3-pointers on her way to 12 points. Marcely had 11 rebounds to go with her nine points.
And to think that the Cobras nearly didn’t make it out of last Tuesday’s opening round against Utica-Notre Dame. Grimes had to hang on at the end to beat the Jugglers 45-42.
With Heiselman back from an injury that sidelined her for two games, Grimes was better on the offensive side, but struggled to stop a potent UND attack that applied lots of pressure and led throughout the first half.
Trailing 27-23 at the break, the Cobras turned to Heiselman and Cady Kalemba to turn up heat on the Jugglers’ guards. They responded, forcing a series of bad shots and turnovers as UND got just six points in that period.
Meanwhile, the Cobras zoomed in front, 36-33, led again by Marcely, who had six of her 15 points in that period and would add 13 rebounds. Grimes’ lead grew to 40-33 in the final period before it had to hang on against one more Juggler charge.
Offering the help to Marcely, Heiselman had 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, while Kalemba and Cassidy Weeks earned seven points apiece. Emily Durr led UND with 18 points, while Jordan Morgan had 11 points.
After a well-deserved rest, Grimes returns to action next Thursday night, when it plays Onondaga.