Feb 17, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
As Marisa Romeo’s shot flew toward the basket at the overtime buzzer of Thursday night’s Section III Class AA quarterfinal, the Liverpool girls basketball was hoping that past ghosts of various kinds would not rise up and haunt them again.
Shannon Seymour said she thought back to last year’s AA quarterfinals, when Romeo’s last-second basket had ended the Warriors’ season in a 47-46 defeat.
“My heart sank through my stomach,” she said. “I thought it was going in.”
Head coach Mike Olley said he considered a different, more recent event – Liverpool’s 86-76, quadruple-overtime defeat to West Genesee on Jan. 12, a game that only went that far because WG’s Emily Tripodi hit a 3-pointer as time ran out in the third OT.
As they all watched, Romeo’s shot, from just behind the 3-point line, hit the glass and the rim, rattled around the hoop twice, went halfway down – but did not go through.
By that tiny margin, no. 5 seed Liverpool had prevailed, 40-39, over no. 4 seed CBA, and had earned a trip to next week’s Class AA semifinal round.
“We’ve been in some really close games this season and we had trouble closing them out,” said Olley. “I’m beyond proud of the way the girls responded here.”
What they had to answer to was a situation that appeared dire. A steal by Michelle Wiese, and basket by Julie Cuomo, had put CBA up 36-30 with barely 90 seconds left in regulation. To that point in the fourth quarter, the Warriors had only scored one field goal.
Then Seymour saved her team’s season. She hit a line-drive 3-pointer with 1:13 left, cutting the margin to 36-33. Then, after Liverpool forced a turnover, Seymour flashed open again beyond the arc and, with 42 seconds to play, drained another 3, and the Warriors had pulled even, 36-36.
“We needed to shoot the ball,” said Seymour. “I didn’t think about it much, I just shot it.”
Both sides had chances to go ahead at the end of regulation. But Cuomo missed on CBA’s end, and Jacy Kocan (who led Liverpool with 11 points) had a 3-pointer go off the rim with one second left.
The overtime period, much like the first four quarters, mostly belonged to the two defenses. Other than Romeo’s free throw, no one could convert until Seymour grabbed an offensive rebound and made a basket with 1:12 left, giving the Warriors a 38-37 lead, its first since the opening period.
After Lyteshia Price made a pair of free throws with 32.7 seconds to play, making it 40-37, CBA used most of the clock to find some kind of open look before Cuomo made a runner with 6.4 seconds left, cutting Liverpool’s margin back to one.
Immediately fouled, Kocan missed the front end of a one-and-one, and as the clock ticked to zero the Brothers, out of time-outs, appeared unable to get any kind of shot. But just before the buzzer, Romeo got open just long enough to let one more shot fly. It almost went in.
Olley reserved praised for all of his seniors, for good reason. Kocan, Seymour and Price starred on both ends, while Sam Grashof hit a pair of important baskets and Mackenzie Chase offered some valuable minutes off the bench, too.
Defensively, the Warriors used a 2-3 zone, as it has all season, to prevent CBA from getting the fast tempo it wanted. It worked, as the Brothers would lead by as much as seven, but not pull away, leaving things open for Liverpool’s late heroics.
This now gives the Warriors a chance at slaying the Goliath down the road in the Class AA semifinals.
In stark contrast to Liverpool’s OT battle, the Northstars went out and flattened no. 8 seed Rome Free Academy 89-25 in its quarterfinal game.
Perhaps mad that it had lost its regular-season finale to New York City power Christ The King on Feb. 19, the Northstars took that anger out on the Black Knights, leading 28-7 after one period and 46-16 by halftime.
It only got more lopsided in the second half, even after the starters went to the bench. Breanna Stewart still managed 32 points to push her career total to 2,124 (the most in Section III history), while Brittany Paul put up 17 points and Sarah Bowles had 15 points. Abbey Timpano finished with seven points.
The winner of the Liverpool-C-NS game gets Fayetteville-Manlius or West Genesee on March 2 in the Class AA final in the Carrier Dome – where the Northstars beat the Warriors 61-19 back on Dec. 10 in the Holiday Tip-Off Classic.
Despite the odds against them, said Seymour, “we think that anything is possible.”