Feb 05, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
A league championship, a Section III Class AA playoffs top seed – these attainable goals lay in front of the West Genesee girls basketball team.
Getting them, though, required going on the road and beating five-time defending champion Cicero-North Syracuse in Tuesday night’s showdown.
After years of seeing the Northstars dominate the local Section III Class AA ranks, WG felt like this was the season where it would all change – but instead, it paid the price for an early drought and never recovered, watching as C-NS prevailed again, 52-38.
Though the personnel has changed at C-NS and the roster might not be as deep or full of incandescent talent, what remains is a commitment, from both coach Eric Smith and his players, to dominate on the defensive side and let everything else work out from there.
Thus, from the opening tip, the Northstars used a variety of defensive looks to cause WG fits, especially its top player, 1,000-point senior Melissa Fumano, who did not score a point until the second quarter.
By then, C-NS was well out in front, having grabbed a 13-2 lead in the game’s first six minutes. When the Wildcats tried to push back late in the period, McKayla Roberts hit a jumper just before the horn to make it 15-6 after one period.
The margin kept growing, as the Northstars had a 25-10 edge at one point late in the half and went to the break still enjoying a 26-14 lead. When the Wildcats’ deficit grew back to 15 points, 31-16, early in the third quarter, the game threatened to turn into a blowout.
But it didn’t happen, largely because C-NS was not taking full advantage of its suffocating defense. Time and again, shots near the basket went off line, and when the Northstars were fouled, it struggled, too, missing 10 of its 20 attempts at the line.
Due to these errors, WG stayed within sight, and led by Melissa Bakowski’s nine second-half points, it fought back, getting within six, 40-34, when Jackie Pardee drained a 3-pointer with six minutes left.
When it counted, though, the Northstars would see the shots fall. First, Samantha Tortora made a deep 3-pointer to restore the lead to nine, 43-34. Then, after WG moved within 45-38, it was Roberts making a crucial 3-pointer to get it back to double digits, out of the Wildcats’ reach.
Bakowski paced WG with 11 points, just ahead of Marissa Hudgins (10 points) and Fumano, who only had seven points. McKayla Roberts led C-NS with 13 points, just ahead of Samantha Roberts and Elizabeth Miles, who got 11 points apiece.