When the Chittenango boys basketball team lost back-to-back games to Jamesville-DeWitt and East Syracuse-Minoa to open the season, fans had to wonder when, or if, the winning would resume.
They would not have to wait long.
Hosting Fulton Tuesday night, the Bears used strong defense to take charge in the early going, then held on at the end to beat the Red Raiders 53-48.
Chittenango's pressure was constant from the opening tip, as it masked continued offensive struggles. In each of the first three periods, the Bears held Fulton under 10 points, allowing a 34-24 margin to build by the time the fourth quarter started.
Only then did the Red Raiders start to make baskets on a regular basis -- but Chittenango, through key free throws from Brendan Galek and Devin Christopher, held on.
Galek, with 14 points, finished just behind Mike Scott, who led the Bears with 15 points. Christopher contributed nine points, with Mike Moon (eight points) and Steve Mesmer (six points) close behind. Max Ambuske led Fulton with 19 points.
The Bears would get two wins in a row Friday, at Homer, where it played strong defense throughout a 55-42 victory over the Trojans.
All Homer could manage in the first half was 14 points. That helped Chittenango to a double-digit lead, even if its own offense remained modest and a lot of free throws were needed down the stretch.
Between them, Galek, Christopher, Moon and Cavanaugh Chaires hit on 19 total foul shots, as Galek led with 14 points and Chaires joined Scott with 11 points. Christopher had 10 points.
As this went on, the Chittenango girls team lost a pair of contests.
First, the Bears fell to Fulton 49-40. No doubt, the hosts were in an inspired mood, playing in purple jerseys (instead of white and red) to honor the father of team member Aly Morzo, who passed away of pancreatic cancer.