A long, long time has passed since the Marcellus boys basketball team last played for a Section III championship -- 45 years, to be exact.
Way back in 1962, the era of short shorts, crew cuts and Chuck Taylor sneakers, the Mustangs met Ilion for the sectional title -- and lost, 64-62.
Two generations later, Marcellus has finally reached a title game again, as it meets Holland Patent Friday night at 6:30 at Manley Field House with the sectional B-1 crown on the line.
"The kids understand what this means to the community," said head coach Jim Marsh. "The thing we have to do is not get caught up in the hype and just play our game."
If nothing else, the Mustangs got there in spectacular style.
Playing at Manley in last Saturday's B-1 semifinal, the Mustangs ignored no. 1 seed Sherburne-Earlville's 21-0 record and took the Marauders apart in the second half, pulling away to a 72-34 victory.
S-E had a perfect record, but it had mostly been built against Class C and D opponents, while the Mustangs had dealt with a much tougher schedule. By game's end, that difference would show.
Only once did Marcellus trail in this game, when it was 5-4 early in the first quarter. And even that lasted less than 20 seconds, for once Kevin Merriman hit a runner to put his team up 6-5, it would not get caught again.
Finding his deft shooting touch again, John Kermes had 12 of his game-high 20 points in the first half, helping the Mustangs lead by as much as 10 before going to the break holding a 26-19 lead.
Late in the third period, Marcellus still had a modest 36-28 edge. But after a Wes Hoy free throw, Jeff Watson came off the bench and hit three consecutive baskets, breaking the game open.