Whatever else it was going to do, the Marcellus boys basketball team knew that, now or later, it would need to beat Hannibal if it wanted league and sectional superiority.
And it just so happened that the Mustangs drew the two-time defending Class B champion Warriors in its OHSL Liberty division opener.
With hot shooting at the start, patience in the middle and terrific team defense down the stretch, Marcellus made a strong statement by beating Hannibal 48-37.
It helped, no doubt, that the Mustangs had played twice already, dominating its own tournament over Thanksgiving weekend, while Hannibal had not played yet.
Still, with four starters back and a new paint presence in 6-9 Czech transfer Matej Schinko, the Warriors came into Marcellus expecting to perform well in its season opener.
Instead, Hannibal missed close-up shots and was cold from the perimeter in the first half, at one point going six minutes without a point.
Dan Heil took advantage of this, hitting on a trio of 3-pointers in the first quarter, and the Mustangs built a lead as large as 11 before going to halftime ahead 21-14.
Coming to life in the third quarter, Hannibal took all of two minutes to catch up, then inched ahead behind Derrick Shoults, who had seven of his 15 points in that frame as the Warriors seized a 31-27 lead going to the final period.
But after Shoults' lay-up with 6:38 left, Hannibal would endure another drought, held without a point for five-plus minutes. Marcellus pressured the Warriors everywhere, forcing bad shots and turnovers while going on a decisive 11-0 run.
Will Fiacchi, despite missing some early free throws, had nine of his 19 points in that fourth quarter, plus 10 rebounds. Heil added 16 points, while Will Nolan came up with eight points. Other than Shoults, no other Hannibal player had more than five points.
Now the Mustangs will go for four in a row Friday night in another home date against Cazenovia.