As a culminating moment of its climb back to respectability, the East Syracuse-Minoa boys basketball team would get a clean shot at toppling the dynasty just down the road.
The Spartans' chance in this Friday's quarterfinal against top seed and two-time defending state champion Jamesville-DeWitt was earned through a tense, exciting first-round game at no. 8 seed Oneida, where it nearly blew a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter, yet held on to beat the Indians 56-55.
This wasn't any huge surprise, since the Spartans came in with a 10-8 mark, more than double the win total it had a season ago, and had the positive experience of winning a road playoff game at Indian River last winter to draw from.
Still, the Indians handled ESM's 6-0 start and dominated the rest of the first quarter, outscoring the Spartans 15-6 to seize the lead, at least for the moment.
In the second period, the Indians again came out slow, as ESM notched the first eight points. This time, Oneida could not quite make it up, and the Spartans 27-24 at the break.
Quadear Mike took over in the third quarter. Whatever the Indians tried to stop Mike, the Spartans' guard got around it and hit another basket. All told, he had 14 points in that single period (he finished with 22), and suddenly ESM led 49-38 with one quarter to go.
Oneida's Matt Tamburro would not let his side surrender, though. He had 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter as the Indians ate away at ESM's advantage, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
With 19 seconds left, Tamburro hit another basket, cutting ESM's lead to one. Immediately, the Indians fouled Greg Raab, who could not make the front end of a one-and-one basket.
Oneida got the rebound, and set up a chance at a game-winning shot. As the time ticked down, Mitch Dubois flashed open, but his jumper was off the mark.