Though the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill boys basketball team entered its own holiday tournament nursing a solid 6-2 record, it was not too happy.
In its last action before the holidays, the Red Devils, right in front of its home fans at "The Pit", had lost 61-54 to archrival Oneida on Dec. 20, the sort of defeat that left a bad taste.
Given six days to rest and recover, VVS was quite ready for the tournament -- and proceeded to dominate it, winning twice by healthy margins over Canadian visitors.
Friday's opening round saw VVS meet Acton, from Ontario, and play stifling defense for long portions of a 49-22 victory.
From the end of the first quarter to the start of the fourth quarter, the Red Devils nearly pitched a shutout. Acton managed just one field goal in that time, as VVS shed an early 8-4 deficit and outscored Acton 43-2 during that stretch.
Evan Croll took a smaller role, with six points, but it hardly mattered. Adam Kemp led with 14 points as Jason Dalton put up nine points. Joe Barbano matched Croll with six points as Isaac Pitman earned five points.
In the other opening-round contest, another Ontario entry, Georgetown, beat Syracuse Academy of Science 58-41, getting 13 points from Chris Pett and 12 points from three other players -- Travis Wright, Dave Culp and Mitch Rizinski.
Now VVS met Georgetown in Saturday night's final. Once again, defense would prove to be the Red Devils' calling card as it earned a 43-34 victory.
Through a close first half, neither side could make any kind of serious run. VVS took a 20-19 lead to the break, then kept up the pressure in the last two periods, limiting Georgetown to a handful of field goals and gaining some breathing space.
On the offensive end, the Red Devils turned into a two-man show. Kemp worked inside and got 22 points, while Croll produced 16 points. In the consolation game, Syracuse Academy of Science beat Acton 59-30.
These wins pushed VVS to 8-2 as it reached the midway point of the regular season, bound for a big game Saturday against Whitesboro as the two sides make up their snowed-out Dec. 19 date.