On perhaps the most memorable single day in West Genesee basketball history, a remarkable comeback by the boys was followed by a dramatic turnaround by the girls that produced the same exemplary result.
The girls Wildcats repeated as Class AA regional champions Saturday night at SRC Arena when it defeated Shenendehowa 57-50, which was a result made more substantial by what took place between these same two teams earlier this season.
Back in a Dec. 28 game at Amsterdam High School, Shen bashed West Genesee 62-29. But the Wildcats were missing several players that day and shot poorly, things that weren’t the case when the two sides, now reigning sectional champions, met again.
Even when the Plainsmen jumped out 10-3, WG absorbed it and, with its ferocious defense, forced eight consecutive Shen turnovers while going on a 10-0 run, eventually leading 18-14 after one period.
That lead grew to seven at one point in the second quarter, helped by a string of 3-pointers from Abby Bednarski, but the Plainsmen put together its own 15-3 run to close the half and it went to the break with the Wildcats trailing 34-29.
As it turned out, the pivotal stage of this game came in the third quarter, when WG continued to struggle from the field, yet Shen could not pull away, sliding into its own slump.
Eventually, the Wildcats pulled close and, with back-to-back baskets from Mackenzie Smith, regained the lead for good, taking a 42-39 edge to the final period.
WG’s defense again seized the moment, forcing the Plainsmen to miss seven straight shots after it pulled within one at 43-42. The Wildcats scored seven in a row to inch its margin to 50-42, which was needed since Shen got four straight points and, as time began to wind down, had two 3-point attempts to pull within one.
Both of them missed, though, and Smith returned to put the game away with a basket and several free throws in the last 90 seconds, finishing the night with 25 points overall. Bednarski had a season-high 12 points, while Catie Cunningham put up 10 points before leaving the game late with an injury.
Overall, the Wildcats’ defense struggled at times allowing outside shots from the Plainsmen, but managed to limit Shen’s 6-foot-5 center, Cat Almeida, to just five points.
So it’s back to Troy’s Hudson Valley Community College for the state Class AA final four, where WG lost in the semifinals to Ossining a season ago.
In next Saturday’s state semifinal at 2:15 p.m., the Wildcats face Section V powerhouse Bishop Kearney, with the winner advancing to the March 17 state title game at 11:45 a.m. against Ossining or Longwood.