By the time it finished its work at last week's Fabius-Pompey Holiday Tournament, the Chittenango girls basketball team felt some steps were being made in a positive direction.
At the very least, the Bears had to feel good about the way it played in last Monday's game against Cazenovia, as it kept close to its Madison County neighbors for a long time before taking a 60-45 defeat to the Lakers.
Cazenovia, the defending Section III Class B-2 champions, were off to a 4-1 start, its lone defeat coming to reigning Class AA champion Corcoran.
The Bears weren't cowed by the challenge, instead playing at a quick pace to counteract the Lakers' imposing defense, only trailing 22-16 at the end of the first quarter.
For the next two periods, the pace slackened, but Chittenango hung close. Only in the fourth quarter, when it managed just seven points, did the Bears see Cazenovia get away.
Before that happened, though, Jessica Antelmi put up 17 points and Kayleigh Clark earned 16 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Maggie Kendrick contributed eight points.
For the Lakers, Katie Mullins had 18 points as Sacred Heart College-bound senior Kiley Evans had 16 points and Lindsey Smith added 10 points.
Chittenango next met Homer in Tuesday's consolation game, the Trojans having dropped a close 44-39 decision to host Fabius-Pompey in the other opening-round contest.
Here, the Bears would bounce back by producing its best offensive effort of the season so far, defeating Homer by the score of 70-52.
In a fast-paced first half, Chittenango flourished, racing to a 38-22 edge. This gave the Bears enough time to withstand the Trojans' third-quarter comeback attempt and answer in kind down the stretch.
Kendrick was red-hot from the perimeter, hitting four 3-pointers on her way to 20 points. Clark had 15 points, while Amber Strickler worked inside for a career-best 14 points and Allana Haynes, with 10 points, also reached double figures.
With a 2-5 record, the Bears host Fowler next Tuesday night before making a short Jan. 9 trip to East Syracuse-Minoa.