Little about the Marcellus girls basketball team’s encounter with Bishop Ludden Tuesday night was aesthetic or fancy.
It was, instead, a matter of two sides grinding out every single possession in search of an important victory – which the Mustangs would attain in a 29-26 decision.
Undergoing a late-season surge, Marcellus earned its sixth consecutive victory and moved to 12-5, while Ludden (8-8) temporarily fell back to the .500 mark.
The tough tone was set in a first quarter where both teams managed just three points. It improved for the rest of the half, with the Mustangs inching out in front, 15-14, by the time they reached the break.
As it turned out, the third quarter was crucial, even though Marcellus only outscored the Gaelic Knights 10-6. With no one putting together any kind of scoring run, the Mustangs could endure its own late slump (just four points in the final period) and, because of defense, still hang on.
Meghan Witkowski led Marcellus with eight points, with Morgan DeLand (seven points) and Molly MacLachlan (six points) also finding modest success. All but one of Ludden’s field goals came from Nicole Granteed, who had 14 points, and Kelly Granteed, who added seven points.
What made the Mustangs’ win more remarkable was that, just 24 hours earlier, Marcellus had a tense non-league game at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, again relying on defense in the late going to rally past the Red Devils 48-47.
The Mustangs trailed most of the night, but started to eat into a 30-23 halftime deficit during the third quarter. However, the Marcellus resistance really kicked up in the final period, holding VVS to seven points as it inched in front and held on.
MacLachlan, with 11 points, led a well-balanced attack. Nicole Wynne managed nine points, while Witkowski got eight points and Erica Balman stepped up for six points. The Red Devils’ Codie Bayeur led both sides with 18 points.