SYRACUSE — The first time through region did not go all that well for the Syracuse Titans this year.
Sure, they defeated both Clearfield and Northridge, but that particular pair of Region 1 teams are combined 2-20 in region play, 10-35 overall.
In games against Layton, Davis, Weber and Fremont, meanwhile, the Titans came up short time and again, often in devastating fashion.
At Layton it was a buzzer-beater that doomed Syracuse. At Davis, the Titans fell in overtime. At Weber, Syracuse actually led in the fourth quarter, before the Warriors rallied to claim the victory.
The Titans could have surrendered at that point in the season, especially after a 22-point loss to Fremont on their home floor.
Instead, they persevered.
When they faced off against Layton again, this time at home, it was the Titans who prevailed.
“You know, our team has been resilient,” Syracuse head coach Braden Hamblin said. “I kept trying to keep them on the right track. I kept reminding them that we were going to get them (Layton, Davis and Weber) again, but at our place.”
Tuesday night at Syracuse High School they got their second chance against Weber and didn’t disappoint.
Led by Rachel Godfrey, who recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, the Titans defeated the Warriors 41-32, continuing their revenge tour.
After allowing the Warriors to score 10 points in the opening quarter, including eight by Aardema alone, Syracuse held Weber to under double digits in each of the final three quarters.
Aardema, the Warriors' leading scorer this year at nearly 10 points per game, was limited to only four points the rest of the way.
A 2-3 zone played a role as Weber struggled to find any purchase in the paint, as did continued and relentless on-ball pressure by the Titans, but ultimately it was communication that allowed Syracuse to be elite on the defensive end.
“To be honest, our communication was the biggest reason for our success tonight,” Hamblin said. “They have a ton of shooters, especially Paige Aardema, and we had to know where she was at all times. I thought our girls did a fantastic job of communicating when she was running baseline, things like that. It was a great job all around by our defense.”
Even with their stout defense, and at one point a lead as large as a dozen, the Titans couldn’t breathe easy.
For every Syracuse point scored and run made, Weber had one of its own.
That included during a third quarter which saw the Titans build a 12-point lead, only to watch as Sarah Pollard (four points), Emma Post (two points) and Lexy Shaw (three points) pulled the Warriors within six.
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Syracuse truly pulled away, thanks in no small part to Godfrey.
The sophomore center scored six points in the deciding frame, including five in a row that took the Titans lead from six to 11.Comment on this story
“She is just a sophomore, but she brings everything to this team,” Hamblin said of Godrey. “She is young and she has a lot to improve upon and learn, but she brings rebounding, height on defense, and she is just strong and gets after it.”
“That was something we definitely needed, especially in the fourth quarter to finish this game. She stepped up and hit a couple of big time shots. It was great.”
Ultimately it was defense that won the day, though as Weber connected on just three shots in the fourth, a pair of 3-pointers by Ashley Lund and a simple putback by Aardema.
“Resiliency and defense has been the calling card of this team,” Hamblin said. “They did great tonight and I am really proud of them.”