In a week full of local girls basketball activity, East Syracuse-Minoa served as the focal point, playing against both Christian Brothers Academy and Jamesville-DeWitt -- and coming within inches of a satisfying split.
First, the Spartans hosted the Brothers, and CBA dominated the first half and ended up with a 61-50 victory, though not without getting a major scare.
Leanne Ockenden, Victoria Johnson and Ellen Voorheis would each burn ESM in the first half, and pressure defense allowed the Brothers to race out to a 31-15 edge.
In the third quarter, though, Ockenden, who had 10 points, went to the sidelines with a knee injury and did not return in the game. Taking full advantage of this, ESM pulled within 39-29 and kept pace in a wild fourth quarter, but could not get closer.
Johnson controlled the game in the paint, earning 21 points, while Voorheis stepped up for 14 points and Michelle Damico had eight points.
Meanwhile, the Spartans had Arnela Mesic lead the way with 15 points, as Alex Casella got 10 points and Mallory Buckley nine points. Olivia Luciani and Chelsea Medler got seven points apiece.
Two nights later, ESM visited Jamesville-DeWitt, and seemed to have a victory in hand before Gratien snatched it right from them in a 45-43 decision.
The Spartans led by one, 43-42, as time wound down. With ESM concerned about preventing an easy basket inside, it left Gratien open just beyond the 3-point line. Gratien took the shot just before the buzzer -- and hit it, giving J-D a dramatic victory.
Prior to that, it had been a tense, back-and-forth affair where neither side could establish any kind of control. The Rams inched in front, 19-15, by halftime, but ESM fought back with solid, consistent defense and went out in front late before Gratien's winning shot.