ESM takes close losses in Celi Tournament

Playing three times in a span of five days, the East Syracuse-Minoa boys basketball team still found itself without a victory.

The Spartans almost ended that skid in Monday's opening round of the Vince Celi Memorial Tournament, only to get burned at the end in a dramatic 68-66 loss to Baldwinsville.

Trailing the Bees 66-63 as regulation time wound down, ESM drew even when Greg Raab, open from the perimeter, hit a 3-pointer with 10 seconds to play.

That still gave B'ville a chance to win it, though, and with less than two seconds to play, Kevin Roy got open and hit what proved to be the game-winner.

So ended a wild affair where ESM, prior to the finale, had pulled off a terrific comeback. B'ville had steadily built a 36-29 halftime lead, then maintained the margin through a low-scoring third quarter.

Then ESM rallied, mainly due to a three-pronged attack. Quadear Mike finished with 16 points, while Sharif Nero picked up 15 points and Tyler Dattmore added 12 points. Roy's game-winner gave him 14 points for the night, as Tyler Monnat (13 points) and Dan Deland (10 points) helped out.

In the other opening-round game, Auburn beat Indian River 64-56, leaving the Warriors to meet ESM in Tuesday's consolation game.

Here, the Spartans would pay for one slow stretch, something even a furious late rally could not change in a 74-70 defeat.

The second quarter proved decisive, as IR outscored the Spartans 22-9 in that frame to leave the hosts with a 44-26 halftime deficit.

ESM was still down, 62-43, before taking over in the fourth quarter and nearly making up the entire margin. Mike and Dattmore each had 17 points, while Raab had 11 points to make it interesting. Still, the Warriors held on, with Jarrod Mattingly (20 points) and Curtis Dukes (18 points) leading the way.

Auburn would take the tournament championship, defeating B'ville 68-53 as the Maroons' Malcom Bryant earned MVP honors.

On Friday night, the Spartans are scheduled make up its snowed-out Dec. 19 game at Bishop Ludden, trying to prevent Gaelic Knights head coach Pat Donnelly from earning his 400th career victory.

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