Baldwinsville Trailing Rome Free Academy by 13 points with one quarter to go, Baldwinsville's girls basketball team made sure that Saturday's championship game of the Bill Middleton Tip-Off Tournament did not get too far away.
Through a frantic fourth quarter, the Bees chopped away at the Black Knights' margin, taking it to the last shot before falling just short in a 53-50 defeat.
Not until the duo of Emily Pascale and Hope DeFazio missed on clear 3-point attempts to tie the game in the last seconds of regulation could RFA feel safe. Of course, the Black Knights had done great work just to get that double-digit advantage.
B'ville roared out to a 10-0 lead before the game was two minutes old, thanks to 3-pointers from DeFazio and Maureen Thayer. But then it went nearly six minutes without a field goal, giving RFA plenty of time to regroup and begin its comeback.
Still up 16-10 going to the second quarter, the Bees cooled down again, and RFA's Kayli Smith started to assert herself, getting nine points in that frame. Smith had to be good, since three RFA starters would pick up three fouls in the first half alone.
Despite that, key baskets by Teresa Anken and Mikenna Sochia had the Black Knights in front of B'ville, 28-24, going into the break. Smith then added five more points in the third quarter, giving her 14 for the game on her way to tournament MVP honors.
The 3-pointers from Smith and McKenzie Guy gave RFA a chance to pull clear, and as the fourth quarter started, B'ville trailed 46-33.
But the Bees' relentless pressure, combined with the Black Knights' continued foul trouble, set up a frantic comeback. With less than a minute left, and still down 52-45, Thayer hit a 3-pointer and DeFazio, who had a game-high 18 points, sank a free throw, making it 52-49.