East Syracuse So many times in seasons past, the East Syracuse-Minoa boys basketball team entered its own Vince Celi Memorial Tournament as a definitive host, but not a definitive favorite.
Not this time, though, as the Spartans took a 6-0 record into its annual holiday gathering after making a big comeback Tuesday night to beat visiting Fowler 77-70.
For the most part, ESM settled for outside shots in the first half. That would backfire in the second quarter as Fowler broke out and outscored the Spartans 25-13, leading as much as 14 before going to the break in front 37-26.
Gradually, ESM built up its own defensive pressure in the third quarter, forcing Falcon turnovers while, at the same time, it worked the ball inside with more regularity.
Combined, this led to the Spartans outscoring Fowler 28-13 in that pivotal period, and down the stretch it held on by getting production from all of its key players.
Brandon Russell, with 17 points, was one of four ESM players in double figures. Casey Sullivan had 15 points, while Jeff McDuffie got 13 points and Keith Caiello added 12 points. Bobby Campese (nine points) and Tyler Johnson (eight points) nearly hit double figures, too. In defeat, Fowler got 21 points from Wilquan Burke and 19 points from Mike Givens.
ESM’s girls team had its own two-game win streak entering the Celi tournament after going to Fowler and topping the Falcons 49-24.
The Spartans gradually built its margin throughout the night, led by Gabby Eure, who poured in 17 points. Stepahnie Edmonds and Rebecca Nelson each had eight points.
Next Tuesday, the ESM girls play Auburn in the first round at 12:45 after Baldwinsville meets Whitesboro at 11 a.m. In the boys division, the Spartans go for seven in a row against Mexico at 4:15, with B’ville playing Auburn at 2:30.
All of the consolation and championship games are next Wednesday, also starting at 11 a.m. with the boys games first and the girls game to follow.