One more accurate shot, or one more steal, or one more well-timed rebound, and perhaps the Oneida boys basketball team lives beyond the first round of the Section III Class A playoffs.
Instead, the no. 8 seed Indians exited the scene, beaten 56-55 by no. 9 seed East Syracuse-Minoa in a first-round thriller Tuesday night that saw the hosts nearly erase a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter.
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 it trailed 27-24 at the break.
Things got worse in the third quarter, and Quadear Mike could be blamed for it. 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 Oneida was staring at a 49-38 deficit heading into the final frame.
Matt Tamburro would not led 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 Oneida's deficit 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.