Just two weeks after practices commenced, both of Canastota's basketball teams tipped off a new season, in exciting contests with mixed results.
The girls Raiders, trying to top a magical 2008-09 campaign, rallied past Vernon Verona Sherrill 33-32 Monday night with a familiar winning formula, while the Canastota boys team started fast at Camden, but could not hold on in a 62-59 loss to the Blue Devils.
All the Canastota girls did a season ago was put together a perfect 20-0 regular season, then get to the Section III Class B-2 finals before falling to Clinton.
Though just three seniors departed from that team, one of them was Liz McGinley, the team's leading scorer (16.1 points per game) and rebounder. In her absence, the Raiders would have to rely, even more, on defense -- as it did against VVS, who is trying to improve on last year's 3-17 struggles.
Baskets were precious, especially in the second quarter, as the two sides combined for just 11 points and Canastota sneaked into a 16-15 lead.
VVS had its best stretch in the third quarter, moving out in front 28-24, but the Raiders' defense stepped up in the final period, holding the Red Devils to just four points as it reclaimed the lead and held on.
Freshman Shea Foster and senior Alicia Hibbard, two of the Raiders' returning starters, accounted for much of that offense. Foster, expected to play the same sort of frontcourt role McGinley performed so well, had 16 points, while Hibbard poured in 11 points.
VVS, in defeat, saw Tracee Scheibel earn 11 points and Erin Curtis get seven of her nine points at the free-throw line.
Meanwhile, at Camden, the Canastota boys team, 9-12 a season ago, had Camden (a Class A team from the Tri-Valley League) worried for a while.