If the East Syracuse-Minoa girls basketball team could win its own Vince Celi Memorial Tournament, it would have a whole lot of confidence going into 2009.
As it turned out, the Spartans didn't win it all, as Whitesboro topped them 66-51 in last Tuesday's title game, but it still proved to be a fine performance in the long run.
ESM reached that final with a solid effort in last Monday afternoon's opening round, pulling away late to beat Onondaga 52-36.
They were tied, 12-12, through one period, but the Spartans' defensive pressure suffocated OCS in the second quarter as the visitors managed just three points.
Still, the Tigers recovered to play ESM to a third-quarter draw, keeping the game within reach, before the Spartans closed on a 15-6 run.
Arnela Mesic led the way with 11 points, with Olivia Luciani close behind as she got 10 points. Becky Teschler had eight points as Chelsea Medler earned seven points and Mallory Buckley got six points. OCS's Geena Brady led both sides with 13 points.
Whitesboro ripped Baldwinsville 62-33 to reach the title game, and would not have a letdown in that final against ESM.
Though never fully dominant, the Warriors outscored the Spartans in each period, building up a 34-27 halftime margin. Whitesboro kept the margin through the work of tournament MVP Betsy Gadziala, who set a new career mark with 29 points as she dominated in the paint.
No ESM player came close to Gadziala's production, though Buckley did finish with 16 points. Mesic and Carissa Ficcaro each had eight points, while Teschler and Medler each produced seven points. Baldwinsville beat Onondaga 51-41 in the consolation game.
Following another home test against Cortland next Tuesday night, ESM (4-5) begins a string of road tests on Jan. 9 at Chittenango.