That sound heard in the Baker High School gymnasium last Wednsday night, at the end of the Baldwinsville boys basketball team's game against Cicero-North Syracuse, was everyone in red exhaling again.
And it was a perfectly appropriate reaction. The Bees nearly squandered a 17-point fourth-quarter lead in last Wednesday night's wild affair, yet still held on to beat the Northstars 85-80.
B'ville arrived here still lacking the services of Tom Cuppernull, Jeremy Boltus and Ed Morris, all out with injuries.
However, the stars -- Luke MacDougall, Brandon Witte and Brett Botsford -- were still in place, and right from the start, it took the game right to CNS.
Ignoring the Northstars' 11-3 mark, the Bees set a furious tempo and used runs of 8-0 and 7-0 in the second quarter to build a 41-29 halftime lead, overcoming the fact that Pat Corbin was leading CNS with 18 points.
Continuing to shred up the Northstars' defense with speed and hot shooting, the Bees' margin grew in the third quarter, and when Chris Tomeny hit a jumper with 6:40 to play, B'ville had a 69-52 lead and looked to be safe.
Corbin thought otherwise. In a 14-3 CNS frenzy that took less than 90 seconds to put together, the Northstars' senior hit three 3-pointers, giving him eight for the night (a school record) and 35 points overall.
Having seen its lead slashed to six (72-66), B'ville did not panic, instead holding CNS scoreless for more than two minutes to slow down the Northstars' momentum.
Still, as MacDougall, Witte and Botsford made free throws, the Northstars ate away at the margin, as Laquan James had eight of his 21 points in the final minute.
Only when MacDougall nailed two more foul shots with 4.3 seconds left was the game put on ice. He finished with a double-double, 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Witte had a team-high 25 points and Botsford got 18 points. Tomeny set a new career mark with 13 points, including three 3-pointers.
Following this exhausting battle, B'ville has to come right back Friday and meet CBA, winners of four in a row and rested for a full week after its own hard-fought win against CNS on Jan. 12.