With a career-best effort from junior forwardChris Whalen, the Baldwinsville boys basketball team claimed third place in last week's Vince Celi Memorial Tournament at East Syracuse-Minoa.
Whalen put together 29 points and earned a spot on the All-Tournament team as the Bees beat the host ESM Spartans 75-63 in Tuesday afternoon's consolation game.
B'ville got pushed into that consolation game after a rough opening-round outing against Auburn, where the Maroons parlayed a first-quarter offensive eruption into an 89-60 victory over the Bees.
Whatever B'ville tried on defense in the opening period backfired, especially in the last four minutes of that frame. Only down 16-12, the Bees watched the Maroons close on a 17-2 run, capped by Kenneth Byrd's high-arching, 25-foot 3-pointer as time expired.
Down 33-14, the Bees did bounce back for a while, closing within 51-41 midway through the third quarter, but Auburn got clear again as four players, led by Ronzell Allen (20 points) and Mike Granato (16 points), hit double figures.
Meanwhile, the Bees saw Mike Guinta and Kevin Roy each post 17 points, with Casey Murphy adding 13 points. Chris Thayer added eight points.
ESM, meanwhile, had lost 63-51 to Union-Endicott in the other half of the opening round, and was determined to get something out of the tournament named in honor of its former coach.
The two sides stayed close until late in the first half, when the Bees used a sustained run to take a 37-30 lead. Nearly half of B'ville's offense came from Whalen, who already had 17 points by the break.
And he wasn't done. When ESM threatened late in the third quarter, Whalen hit back-to-back baskets, including one just before the buzzer to make it 51-41.Despite a brief surge midway through the fourth quarter, the Spartans never got closer than seven points (62-55) again.
As Whalen surged, so did Roy. Despite not scoring in the first quarter, Roy still finished with 18 points, 13 of them after halftime, while Guinta picked up 14 points. Sharif Nero led ESM with 18 points.
B'ville will get a second shot at Auburn when it hosts the Maroons Jan. 7 in its first 2010 outing.