Through East Syracuse-Minoa's girls basketball team, the paths of three local teams would cross as Christian Brothers Academy and Jamesville-DeWitt both played crucial OHSL Freedom division games against the Spartans.
First, the Spartans had to play at Buddy Wleklinski Court against the Brothers, who kept its share of first place in the league by beating ESM 63-50.
Right from the start, the pace was a quick one, and both teams liked it as they played to a 19-19 tie. But it was ESM cooling off in the second quarter, giving CBA a chance to seize control and go up 36-26 going into the break.
Though they played on even terms the rest of the way, CBA maintained that edge, and Leanne Ockenden had a lot to do with it.
Held to 10 points in the Brothers' hard-fought win at J-D on Jan. 14, Ockenden rebounded for 27 points on this night, including four 3-pointers. She got help inside, too, as Victoria Johnson earned 15 points and Michelle Damico had nine points.
ESM wasn't too quiet, either, as Chelsea Medler worked her way to 18 points. Alex Cassella had 11 points, while Mallory Buckley got seven points. Arnela Mesic and Olivia Luciani had six points apiece.
Two nights later, ESM was back home to meet J-D, and the combined work of guards Alyssa Gratien and Jessica Kramer pushed the Red Rams past the Spartans 64-48.
Decked out in pink jerseys to promote cancer awareness, ESM overcame a quiet first quarter where it had just five points by going on an 8-0 run to open the second period.
But the game turned in the last minute of the second half. Trailing 23-22, J-D used a layup from reserve Abbey Smith and a 3-pointer from Kramer to seize a 27-23 edge, then saw Kramer hit five more points early in the third quarter as part of a 15-3 run.