That sound you heard from East Syracuse-Minoa's boys basketball Tuesday night was a whoop of both delight and relief.
Beaten in its first nine games, often by close margins or last-second shots, the Spartans finally reached the win column, needing every bit of its grit and determination to topple Cortland by a score of 48-47.
What made that 0-9 mark even more annoying was the fact that ESM (1) was the guest of honor at both the dedication of Buddy Wleklinski Court on Dec. 5 at CBA and (2) saw Bishop Ludden coach Pat Donnelly (who once coached at ESM) get his 400th career win.
ESM was due some good fortune, and found it against Cortland, a solid opponent that had gone 6-4 in the first half of the regular season.
Again, the Spartans endured a close first half, going to the break tied 23-23. But in the third quarter, ESM took charge, outscoring the Purple Tigers 17-10 and seizing a 40-33 lead.
Even as it cooled off down the stretch, the Spartans still played enough defense and made enough key stops to break its long skid.
Somehow, it won without anyone scoring in double figures. Greg Raab, with nine points, led a deep and balanced attack where Tyler Dattmore and Zach Whedon each had eight points. Ken Cannon (seven points) and Quadear Mike (six points) were close behind. For Cortland, Jeff Brown had 14 points and Trevor Williamson added 13 points.
ESM seeks back-to-back wins Friday night at Chittenango.