A single, accurate shot was all that separated the Marcellus boys basketball team from its first-ever Section III championship.
What's more, the Mustangs had the right man -- leading scorer John Kermes -- in the right position to take that shot in the waning seconds of overtime in last Friday night's Class B-1 final against Holland Patent at Manley Field House.
"You certainly want John taking the last shot," said head coach Jim Marsh.
But the shot glanced off the rim and refused to fall, resulting in a 69-68 defeat to the Golden Knights -- and heartbreak for the hundreds of Marcellus partisans that flocked to Manley, hoping to witness history.
Win or lose, though, this night -- and this game -- was a memorable affair. Once down by 17 in the second half, the Mustangs made it all up and had leads late in regulation and overtime before HP sank clutch free throws to pull it out.
Just being in the final was historic enough. The last time Marcellus got this far was 1962, when it lost an equally narrow final to Ilion 64-62. More than four decades later, it proved to be just as exciting.
Holland Patent, a no. 6 seed that had gone 12-8 in the regular season in a Tri-Valley League mostly populated by Class A teams, knocked off no. 3 seed South Jefferson and no. 2 seed Cazenovia to get to the finals.
And the Golden Knights had similar success in the early stages of the final, going on a 15-0 run that stretched well into the second quarter. It took Kevin Merriman hitting some outside shots late in the half to keep the Mustangs within sight, 35-22, as the teams went to the break.
Midway through the third quarter, little had changed. Marcellus trailed, 45-28, and there was little indication it could put a dent into HP's big margin.