All sorts of important events mark the start of the high school basketball season in Syracuse, including a fitting honor for a departed coach.
On Friday and Saturday, Henninger High School will again play host to the Peppino's Classic, six games featuring top local teams and visitors from the Section V ranks.
The feature on Friday night is a rematch of last year's memorable Section III Class AA final between Henninger and Christian Brothers Academy, to tip off at 7:45 after Utica Proctor faces Rush-Henrietta.
Prior to the Henninger-CBA game, the court in Henninger's gymnasium will be dedicated in honor of Joe Mazella, who led Henninger to 245 wins in 15 seasons as head coach, including a state championship in 2002. Mazella, who was serving as Henninger's vice principal, passed away on Sept. 12 at his home in Eastwood at the age of 51.
Game action will continue on Saturday, starting at noon when Bishop Grimes faces Bishop Ludden. At 2 p.m., two-time defending state Class A champion Jamesville-DeWitt faces reigning state Class B champion Bishop Kearney, with Fayetteville-Manlius taking on Fairport at 4 p.m. Henninger returns to close out the event by facing Gates-Chili at 6 p.m.
All this followed a Thanksgiving weekend where Syracuse's Institute of Technology made a successful varsity debut -- and, on the girls side, Corcoran may have established itself as the team to beat in the Class AA ranks.
ITC managed to win its first-ever varsity game in the opening round of the DeRuyter Tournament, defeating Gilbertsville-Mount Upton (Pa.) 56-36.
Showing no first-game nerves, ITC outscored G-MU in every quarter, steadily building a 28-19 halftime lead and pulling away in the late going.
Jebron Thomas and Saquan Dozier each had 15 points to lead a well-balanced ITC attack, with Jahcin Ingram close behind as he got 14 points. Frederick Dodd added six points.