When it came time to choose a new head coach for the East Syracuse-Minoa boys basketball team to succeed Jamie Curtin, the search did not take too long -- or stray anywhere from the Spartans' bench.
Mark Carr, assistant coach on the varsity team during last year's 3-17 campaign, has moved one seat over, and it's a family business as his father, Larry, is an assistant coach and his brother, Paul, serves as volunteer coach.
Together, the Carrs showed off the new ESM model last Wednesday night in the opener against Chittenango -- and it looked good.
The Spartans were hot from the perimeter in the first half, then relied on a tough inside game and clutch free-throw shooting to hold off the Bears' late charge and prevail, 72-65.
Carr benefits from having an all-senior starting five -- Tom Sullivan, Greg Lothridge, Jason Kondra, Brian Para and Sean Halligan - and that experience, combined with the energy and confidence of new leadership, helped subdue Chittenango.
After a tight start, ESM broke clear with a barrage of four 3-pointers in the second quarter which helped to build a 36-26 edge by halftime.
At one point in the third period, the Spartans' margin had grown to 17 (49-32), but the Bears refused to go away, closing the quarter with a 12-2 spurt and inching back within four, 62-58, with less than three minutes to play.
But down the stretch, ESM stayed cool. Kondra had five of his team-high 17 points in the last three minutes, sinking four free throws, and Sullivan also converted from the line to subdue Chittenango.
The team had near-perfect offensive balance. Aside from Kondra, Sullivan produced 16 points, Halligan had 14 points and Lothridge, a 6-11 center, threw in some pretty hook shots on his way to 15 points. Heath Stone led Chittenango's effort with 21 points.