Taking the floor for the first time in the 2010-11 season, the Chittenango boys basketball team started quite slow - but woke up just in time.
A dramatic late comeback Tuesday night culminated in the Bears beating the Tigers 54-53, pulling it out in the final seconds as it seeks a return to the post-season.
Under the direction of head coach John Clancy, Chittenango went 6-12 a season ago and missed the Section III Class A playoffs. With a solid cast of returning veterans (Devin Christopher, Mike Moon, Mike Scott, Brendan Galek and
Cavanaugh Chaires), the Bears had a reason to think it could improve on that mark.
Mexico sought to change that opinion - and did for a while. A tight game appeared to break open in the second quarter when the Tigers outscored Chittenango 21-12, meaning that it took a 34-23 lead to the break.
From that point on, though, the Bears' defense improved, holding Mexico to eight points in the third period as it ate into that deficit. And in the final period, Chittenango went on one more run, inching ahead and hanging on.
Scott led the way, producing 18 points, while Christopher hit a pair of 3-pointers on his way to 14 points. Seven of Galek's 11 points came from free throws as Chaires added six points.
On Friday, Chittenango made it back-to-back wins against Homer, showing improvement on the offensive side in a 68-42 romp over the Trojans.
A steady, well-balanced attack helped the Bears move to a 37-23 lead by halftime, and the margin kept growing as the night went on.
Scott had 14 points, just ahead of Christopher and Galek, who finished with 11 points apiece. Moon had nine points as Greg Jasek and Wes Burghardt both took on a larger role, each finishing with eight points.