While it had roared out to a 4-0 start, the Marcellus boys basketball team had done so without ever having to venture away from the comforts of its own gymnasium.
Inevitably, though, the Mustangs would have to board a bus and go somewhere else to further prove its worth -- and it did so, passing one of the toughest road tests the OHSL Liberty division had to offer.
Marcellus, in fact, got a lot of satisfaction from last Wednesday night's 65-49 victory over Bishop Grimes, the team's fifth in a row. It served as a small amount of payback for dropping last year's Section III Class B-1 semifinal defeat to those same Cobras.
Since that time, Grimes, who went on to win the B-1 championship, saw heavy graduation losses, including that of 1,000-point scorer Eric Ball. But it still had a talented sophomore star in Mike Stone to build around, and had been impressive routing Jordan-Elbridge 83-51 in its opener on Dec. 5.
Still, this was just the Cobras' second game of the season, and its conditioning was not ideal -- something Marcellus would eventually exploit.
That didn't take place in the first half, though, as the two sides continually traded baskets. Aside from a 9-0 run in the first quarter, the Mustangs watched the Cobras step right with them, and the two sides went to the break in a 27-27 tie.
When Stone dropped a 3-pointer to briefly put Grimes ahead 30-27, Marcellus looked to be in a tight spot. Thanks to Will Nolan, though, the Mustangs pulled out of it in a hurry.
Quiet in the first half, Nolan used back-to-back baskets, one of them a 3-pointer, to pull Marcellus in front for good. By the time the third quarter ended, Nolan had put up 10 of his eventual total of 14 points, and the Mustangs had a 48-39 edge.
With smart defensive adjustments, Marcellus never let the Cobras get closer than eight points in the entire fourth quarter, and as the case with other opponents, Grimes had to confront a balanced Mustang attack.
Will Fiacchi led the way, earning 18 points, and Marcellus provided inside strength, too, as Scott Cotter earned 13 points and Zach Barbaro came off the bench to earn 12 points. In defeat, Stone led the Cobras with 20 points.
Going for six straight wins, the Mustangs take a shorter road trip to Jordan-Elbridge on Friday night.