Amid a spirit of high community support, both East Syracuse-Minoa basketball teams took to the court for the annual Vince Celi Memorial Tournament, named in honor of the late ESM boys basketball coach.
Neither Spartan squad would win in the opening round, though, as the ESM boys fell to Union-Endicott 63-51 and the girls Spartans lost to Baldwinsville 61-51.
Against a Class AA foe in Union-Endicott, the boys Spartans played on even terms in the first half, rallying from an early deficit to forge a 30-30 halftime tie.
The Tigers regained control, though, by outscoring ESM 21-11 in the third quarter. In defeat, Greg Raab led the Spartans with 13 points, while Sharif Nero earned 12 points. Steve Lothridge and Quadear Mike each had nine points. Tiberus Noelle (17 points) led four U-E players that scored in double figures.
As for the ESM girls, it engaged in a tense, tight battle against Baldwinsville. They were tied, 23-23, at halftime, and neither side gained a lead larger than four points until the fourth quarter, which the Spartans entered with a 39-35 lead.
Only in the last minutes did the Bees get away, helped in no small part by ESM's foul trouble that caused stars like Chelsea Medler (12 points) and Becky Teschler (nine points) to go to the bench early. B'ville outscored ESM 26-12 in that last frame.
The Bees saw Claire Monnat hit on a pair of 3-pointers and get 10 of her 20 points at the free-throw line. Maggie Monnat added 15 points. Mallory Buckley and Alex Cassella each had eight points.
This put the two ESM teams into consolation games -- the boys against Baldwinsville (who lost to Auburn 86-60), the girls against Auburn (who fell to Whitesboro 64-52).
On the boys side, the Spartans fell again, 75-63, as a close contest broke open late in the first half and ESM, despite a couple of runs, could not quite answer.