All the possible excuses were in line for the Christian Brothers Academy girls basketball team prior to Tuesday night's game at East Syracuse-Minoa.
The Brothers were 0-2, perhaps discouraged from the two losses it took at the Lady Raider Tip-Off Classic at Utica Proctor, and were playing for the third time in four days. Plus, ESM was confident following a win in its Dec. 11 opener at Chittenango.
Instead of pity, though, CBA produced passion, especially on the defensive side, as it pulled away late and beat the Spartans 54-37 to get an early leg up in the OHSL Freedom division.
Another virtue - patience - helped, too. Though CBA led 12-7 after one period, it could not draw clear as, in the next two periods, ESM hung close and, with its own strong defense, kept things tight.
Then came the fourth quarter - where, erasing any possible suspense, CBA applied more pressure and wore the Spartans down, holding them to a scant two points.
As this went on, Marisa Romeo was busy recording 16 points, while Ellen Voorheis and Kelsey Johnson landed 12 points apiece. No one on ESM could match those numbers, as Gabby Eure led with 10 points and Nicole Cassella added six points. Olivia Luciani made just a single 3-pointer.
ESM did not take too long to recover, though, as it went to Fowler Thursday night and started clicking again in a 68-46 victory over the Falcons.
Maintaining a crisp pace, the Spartans worked its way to a 31-23 halftime lead, but could not get away as Fowler, led by Jaquela Lockwood (19 points) and Latina Smith (16 points), kept their team within reach.
Only a 22-9 dash through the fourth quarter put things away, as ESM saw Luciani hit four 3-pointers to account for most of her game-high 18 points. Four Spartans finished in double figures as Julie Maselli earned 13 points, Eure picked up 12 points and Cassella improved to 11 points.
The Spartans would host its other neighbors, from Jamesville-DeWitt, on Tuesday before hosting the Dec. 27-28 Vince Celi Memorial Tournament.