Bees topple unbeaten ESM, win Celi Tournament

As it sought the championship at last week's Vince Celi Memorial Tournament, the Baldwinsville boys basketball team had an opportunity to give 7-0 host East Syracuse-Minoa its first defeat of the season.

And the Bees would do so, putting away the Spartans 63-49 in last Thursday's championship game by surviving an early hurricane of activity, then settling the game down to the tone that it wanted.

To win seven in a row, ESM had mostly used a frantic, uptempo style, and it started against B'ville doing the exact same thing, driving to the net on most possessions. This helped the Spartans go up 26-20 midway through the second quarter.

Meanwhile, as the Spartans attempted to neutralize Luke MacDougall, Brandon Witte could not be stopped. By halftime, Witte had poured in 20 points, and that spark helped B'ville turn its deficit into a 36-33 lead.

To erase any doubts, the Bees spent most of the third quarter shutting ESM down and going on a 16-2 run. Even though it cooled off a bit late, B'ville never let the Spartans get closer than nine points again.

Witte finished with 30 points, a career high, and snagged tournament MVP honors. MacDougall, with 16 points, and Brett Botsford joined him on the All-Tournament team. Sean Halligan led ESM with 17 points, and Jason Kondra added 16 points, but all of Kondra's offense came in the first half.

A day earlier, the Bees advanced to the finals in grinding style, using its defense as the foundation for a 61-45 victory over Bishop Grimes.

B'ville took command in a big way midway through the first half, scoring 20 unanswered points and shutting out the Cobras for more than eight minutes. All game long, the Bees kept Grimes star Eric Ball in check, holding him to just three points.

Even with that, Grimes made its own 13-0 run and closed within five at several points in the second half before a series of short misses allowed B'ville to regroup and make a 14-4 run that broke it open.

Nicely splitting the duties, MacDougall had 16 points, Witte gained 14 points and Brett Botsford added 13 points. Ed Morris and Tom Cuppernull had six points apiece. Frank Majka led Grimes with 19 points.

Having improved to 6-3 with this tournament title, the Bees await a big Friday home game against Auburn, off to its own hot start.

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