To stay unbeaten going into 2010, the Fayetteville-Manlius girls basketball team would need to beat Oswego for a second time.
The Hornets and Buccaneers clashed in Tuesday night's championship game of the Shoults/Ponzi Tournament -- and sure enough, F-M would prevail again, this time by a score of 47-40, to make it seven wins in a row.
F-M had edged Oswego in overtime on Dec. 4 in the Jamesville-DeWitt Tip-Off Tournament and, of course, had beaten the Buccaneers in last year's Section III Class AA quarterfinal, so the hosts were desperate to turn things around.
But the Hornets had a ready answer. First, it used baskets by Emily Trapani and Ali Pliszka to claim a 15-12 first-quarter lead, then turned things over to the defense.
F-M's deep familiarity with the Oswego system through six meetings in the last two seasons has especially proved effective when it comes to reading what the Bucs will do on the offensive side.
This showed up again in the tournament final, as Oswego got just 14 total points in the second and third periods. F-M's lead grew to double digits, 34-24, and it had enough to withstand the Bucs' late push.
Trapani, the tournament MVP, and Pliszka each finished with 15 points to account for most of the Hornets' offense. Bri Dolan and Charlotte Beers added six points apiece. F-M overcame the effort of Oswego's Brooke Reifinger, who led both sides with 18 points.
They had gone through wildly contrasting first-round games. As Oswego had to battle past Lake Region (Maine) 46-43, F-M had taken Mexico apart in a 62-18 romp.
Though it was the reigning Class A champions, the Tigers never had a chance against the Hornets, who used a 17-3 second-quarter outburst to break the game wide open.
In fact, by game's end, Trapani, with 20 points, had outscored the entire Mexico roster by herself. Alexis Rios had nine points, while Dolan and 6-foot sophomore Kiley Schoemaker got eight points apiece. All told, 10 different F-M players recorded field goals.
F-M will seek its eighth straight win next Tuesday, against Henninger, before a huge Jan. 8 showdown with Cicero-North Syracuse, their first encounter since last year's Section III Class AA final, which the Northstars won. And all eyes will be on the paint battle between Trapani and CNS's highly-touted sophomore, Breanna Stewart.