Originally, the plan for the East Syracuse-Minoa boys basketball team was to tip off its 2011-12 season on Dec. 1 against Skaneateles, but that game, and the team’s opening slate, got pushed back for a good reason.
Mark Carr, the head coach of the Spartans, is also the boys soccer coach at ESM, and he was busy up until Nov. 19, when ESM, playing in its first-ever state Class A semifinal, lost to eventual champion Jericho.
Also, several players on the basketball team, including Tyler Johnson, Bobby Campese and Jeff McDuffie, were busy helping ESM win a sectional football title, and that season didn’t end until a Nov. 12 loss to another eventual state champion, Maine-Endwell, in the regional round.
So the Spartans gave itself more time for practice, and it seemed to work. In last Tuesday’s opener, ESM ventured to Marcellus and set a torrid pace on its way to beating the Mustangs 77-53.
From the start, the Spartans ran at Marcellus, and its pace led to lots of points on the other end. The production was steady, too, as ESM got exactly 20 points in every period and led 60-39 by the end of the third quarter.
Just as important, it was a balanced attack. Johnson, who shared football CNY Player of the Year honors with West Genesee’s Matt Naton, led with 13 points, with three others – McDuffie, Casey Sullivan and Sean Richardson – earning 11 points apiece.
Campese nearly got to double figures, too, as he earned nine points, while Keith Caiello and Brandon Russell each had eight points.
On Friday night, ESM traveled again, this time to Central Square, and despite the Class AA opposition and a slightly slower pace, would earn a 61-51 victory over the Red Hawks.
Both sides had uneven starts, but it was the Spartans breaking out of it faster and gaining a 30-23 halftime lead. Central Square nearly caught up and only trailed by one, 44-43, going into the final period.
Here, though, ESM’s defense played its best, forcing turnovers and bad shots as the margin grew again. Offensively, Campese led with 16 points, while Russell improved to 13 points and Caiello gained 10 points. McDuffie and Johnson added six points apiece.
ESM could really announce itself as an OHSL Freeom division contender Tuesday if it beats CBA, part of a week spent at home that includes a Friday visit from Fulton.