Having established a winning pattern, the Marcellus boys basketball team looks to take the last step or two and become a champion.
Two seasons ago, the Mustangs reached the Section III Class B-1 finals, but fell to Holland Patent. In 2008, Marcellus had a 16-6 mark and a top seed in the B-1 tournament, yet lost to Bishop Grimes in the semifinal round.
This left returning stars like Dan Heil, Will Fiacchi and Will Nolan quite hungry for this season, as shown by the way Marcellus dominated its own season-opening tournament on Thanksgiving weekend.
The Mustangs took on Camden in the first round and never let the Blue Devils breathe too much in the course of a 95-40 romp.
Playing at a blinding tempo, Marcellus put up 32 points in the first quarter, had a 52-26 edge by halftime and then went on a 28-4 spurt in the third quarter. About the only thing the Mustangs didn't accomplish was reaching the 100-point mark.
Fiacchi hit on a trio of 3-pointers and finished with 23 points, while Heil gained 20 points and Nolan gained 13 points. Niko Wagner (seven points) and Zach Barbaro (six points) also made solid contributions as 12 different Marcellus players got at least one field goal.
In the other opening-round game, Faith Heritage knocked off Baldwinsville 57-39, setting up Saturday's final between the Mustangs and Saints.
There, Marcellus saw the point total dip, but everything else was in fine working order during a 68-37 victory over the Saints.
Consistent defensive pressure helped to insure that Faith Heritage never got more than 11 points in any period. Marcellus grabbed a 21-10 lead by the end of the first quarter and never relinquished control.
Each of Heil's six field goals was a 3-pointer, helping him earn 20 points as Fiacchi grabbed a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds. Scott Cotter returned to form with eight points, with Steve Raven (seven points) and Barbaro (six points) close behind. Baldwinsville edged past Camden 54-50 in the consolation game.
All this proves a prelude to a huge Tuesday-night showdown between Marcellus and two-time defending Class B champion Hannibal, which has four starters back from last year's 20-3 squad. The Mustangs also host Cazenovia on Friday night.