MACEDON — The Gananda girls basketball team picked up its first Wayne County League win Friday night, defeating Lyons 50-42.
It appeared at first as déjà vu was about to take place for the third year in a row as the Lady Lions (0-1) had beaten the Panthers (2-1) in their own house, 49-48 and 43-42, in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
Lyons lit up the scoreboard first as senior co-captain Gator Shields netted two of her eight first-quarter points as the Lions led at the end of period, 13-10. The score was tied five times in the first.
In the second quarter, it looked like the Lions were about to take control opening up a five-point lead with 4:47 left in the first half. Gananda picked up an old-fashion three-point play with 3:29 left as Sara MacDougall was fouled by Hannah Lester. MacDougall converted the freebie and cut the lead to 20-19. Lyons held on to a one point lead at the intermission, 26-25.
The Blue Panthers took their first lead of the game, 28-26, just seconds into the third quarter as senior co-captain Jen Stearns nailed her team's only 3-pointer of the game from the top of the key, bringing the Gananda fans to their feet.
But, Lyons came right back tying the game at 28-28, as Shields dropped in another bucket underneath and was fouled by MacDougall. Shields missed the foul shot with 6:12 left in the third. Gananda retook the lead 29-28, as MacDougall made the second of two free throws and then Michelle Suchan scored two of her six third-quarter points extending the Panthers’ lead to three, 31-28 with 5:43 left in the third. Lyons co-captain Taylor DiSanto made a 3-pointer of her own from the left side with 5:14 left in the frame, knotting the contest at 31-31, which prompted Gananda coach Tony Morabito to call a timeout.
The timeout proved fruitful for Morabito's troops as they went an 8-0 run over then next 2:06, leading 41-37 at the end of the third quarter.
"I know we have a good team and I told the girls you've just got to continue to battle, play good defense and just be patient on offense,” said Morabito. "I'm proud of them they worked their butts off tonight."
"I thought overall offensively we were pretty good," said Lyons coach Eric Kuhn. "I think we got a little stagnant in the second half. I think our legs aren't really in game shape. I found that out in the first four minutes. It's tough, it's been five weeks of preseason and we've been waiting to play, games got bumped and we were on the first bye. No excuses, our defense was terrible tonight. Our game plan was to make Gananda shoot outside and they turned it into a layup fest."
Page 2 of 2 - The Lions came out strong in the fourth period tying the score at 41-41 with 4:38 left to play when Javana Salone cashed her third of four buckets on the night from the same left side of the baseline. Morabito called another timeout with 2:32 left to play and Gananda took the lead for good as MacDougall dropped in the second of two foul shots. Lyons managed to put only one more point on the scoreboard, as DiSanto made the first of two foul shots with 1:49 left, before the Panthers went on to the 50-42 final.
"We knew it was going to be an important game. Every year it's been like they beat us here, we beat them there," said Stearns. " We knew we had to come out strong."
"We just had to get our weak side rebounding working and stop the cutters. (In the second half) we went out and did that," said Suchan.
Lyons was led on the night by Shields with a game-high 19 points, 15 rebounds and three steals, while teammate DiSanto added one 3-pointer towards her 11 points along with three assists and three steals. Salone chipped in 8=eight points.
Gananda was paced by Stearns with 17 points, Suchan with 10 points and Demetria Woodard added nine points
The two teams were Wayne County co-champions the last two seasons and meet again in Lyons on Jan. 15.