So the Christian Brothers Academy boys basketball team got eight days to enjoy holiday gatherings and bask in the collective glow of its epic win at Jamesville-DeWitt on Dec. 21.
When such a big win occurs, a letdown tends to follow -- and the Brothers came within inches of suffering such a fate in last Saturday's opening round of its own 21st annual Bottar-Leone Holiday Classic.
It took Marcus Sales hitting a jumper in the final seconds of regulation for the Brothers to survive a challenge from undefeated Bishop Ford and prevail, 76-75.
Arriving with a 6-0 record from Brooklyn, Ford showed no fear of the hostile CBA atmosphere and dominated portions of the game -- helped, in no small part, by an ankle injury to point guard Stefan Thompson in the opening minute that kept him out for the rest of the weekend.
Ford led most of the way and took a 58-53 edge to the fourth quarter. This forced the Brothers to lean on its veteran hands. Mike Goodman was a pure force in the lane, setting a season high with 28 points and breaking a career record with 23 rebounds.
Outside, Tim Hornstein produced 14 points, but it was Sales that had the ball in his hands as time wound down and CBA trailed, 75-74.
Ignoring the pressure and chaos around him, Sales stepped up and, from 15 feet out, nailed a jumper with three seconds left, giving CBA the lead and Sales 28 points on the night to match Goodman's number. When Ford couldn't answer, the Brothers were in the championship game.
That was just one part of a scintillating doublehader to open the tournament. In the other first-round clash, Markham, from Onatrio, held off Utica-Notre Dame 70-68 behind star forward Adam Fouker's 35 points. This came a day after Fouker dropped 43 points in the consolation game of Bishop Ludden's Rosemary Corcoran Memorial, setting a tournament record for that event.