Armed with opportunities to knock off both of their closest neighbors and fellow Section III Class AA contenders, the Baldwinsville girls basketball team could not take full advantage.
The Bees caught undefeated Cicero-North Syracuse without two key starters for most of last Tuesday’s game, yet saw a second-half lead vanish in a 58-43 defeat to the Northstars.
C-NS entered the night 7-0 and no. 5 in the state Class AA rankings. B’ville was 8-0 before taking a 57-49 defeat to Nottingham Jan. 3, and the Northstars knew the Bees would, in response, play with energy and fire.
Already, C-NS was without an injured Aniah Ingram, but things got worse when 6-foot-2 freshman forward Jessica Cook, the Northstars’ most dangerous inside presence, went down with an injury midway through the first quarter.
Though Cook left the court without assistance, and was walking afterward, she did not play the rest of the game, forcing C-NS to go deeper into its bench than usual.
Meanwhile, the Bees attacked hard. Thanks to 10 first-half points from Claire McAllister and nine points from Katie Pascale, B’ville kept the lead and was up, 27-23, going to the break.
Two things happened to change the course of events. C-NS got a boost from reserve guard Alexandra Miller, whose four 3-pointers led to a career-best 14 points that took pressure off other players.
At the same time, the Northstars’ defense picked up its intensity, sparking a 12-0 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters as B’ville went without a point for more than eight minutes.
Free finished things off, notching 19 of her 29 points in the second half. Mackenzie White finished with seven points. Combined, Pascale and McAllister managed just seven points in those last two periods, and no other player had more than the six points put up by Alena Criss.
B’ville would next take on Liverpool Thursday night, attracting a large home crowd that translated into a tense, emotional atmosphere – but the Bees handled it well, ending its skid with a tough 58-44 victory over the Warriors.
Every possession was contested, and B’ville thrived in that environment, controlling the first half and gaining a 33-21 lead. Then it protected that lead the rest of the way, largely due to big efforts from Carolyn Brussel and Jenna Costello.
Kept quiet in the C-NS game, Brussel answered with 12 points, 13 rebounds, five steals, five blocks and three assists, aiding Costello, who led all scorers with 16 points as she hit on four 3-pointers and also got five rebounds.
Pascale chimed in with 12 points, six assists and five rebounds as Criss got nine rebounds to go with her six points. B’ville’s defense never allowed Liverpool’s top two players, Jenna Wike and Kyra Grimshaw, to catch fire as both finished with 12 points.
All of this left the Bees at 9-2 overall going into a week where it would host Henninger on Tuesday and travel to Corcoran Friday night.