Even as it bolted out to a 4-0 start, the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill boys basketball team still knew the tougher tests in the Tri-Valley League still lay ahead.
And that lesson hit home last Tuesday night, when the Red Devils went to Utica-Notre Dame and suffered a 72-60 loss to the Jugglers.
Always considered a league and sectional contender, UND was coming off a 96-90, double-overtime defeat to Whitesboro where even a 42-point effort from its biggest star, Pat Moore, was not enough.
Furious at letting that game get away, the Jugglers would turn that anger on VVS, taking charge in a fast-paced second quarter.
From a 12-12 tie, UND outscored the Red Devils 23-16 in that frame, and matched everything the visitors tried to do in the second half to come back, at one point blanking VVS for a five-minute stretch of the third preiod.
Moore saved his best work for the end. Contained by the VVS defense much of the night, he managed 13 points in the fourth quarter to finish with 27 points,
A key part was that the Red Devils never got its supporting cast involved. Evan Croll had 18 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists, and Adam Kemp finished with a season-best 17 points, but no one else got close to double figures.
What's more, the star duo drew whistles, as Croll fouled out with five minutes left and Kemp followed suit, thwarting any hopes for a Red Devil win.
Moore got help from Matt Petrone (13 points, five assists) and Dylan Davis (10 points, 10 rebounds) as the Jugglers prevailed.
This was the first of three consecutive road games for the Red Devils. Friday's trip to Holland Patent offers a chance for VVS to bounce back.