Perhaps the Christmas season, with its emphasis on green, had a magical effect on the struggling Marcellus basketball teams.
Having not won for much of December, both groups of Mustangs would take tournament titles during the holiday break, the boys Mustangs winning at its own event while the girls staged a big surprise at the Skaneateles Holiday Hoops Tournament.
When the boys tournament got underway last Tuesday, the Mustangs took on Clinton and made it back-to-back wins, hanging on to beat the Warriors 59-57.
Clinton appeared to gain control when it seized a 32-27 halftime lead, but Marcellus made proper adjustments and dominated the third quarter in all phases of the game, outscoring the Warriors 18-4 to seize a 45-36 lead.
From there, the Mustangs fended off Clinton’s late charge as, again, the offense was spread around. Garrett Thompson led with 22 points, hitting on four 3-pointers, with Duncan Merritt contributing 13 points. Nick Sinay and Wyatt Stehle managed 10 points apiece. P.J. Ziemba led Clinton with 15 points.
Holland Patent rallied from behind to surprise Skaneateles 46-45 in the other part of the first round, leading to Wednesday’s final between the Mustangs and Golden Knights.
Suddenly on a roll, Marcellus toppled HP 60-55, mostly on the basis of a strong first half. Whatever the tempo, the Mustangs adjusted to it, steadily building a 33-24 edge by halftime and withstanding all of the Golden Knights’ second-half charges.
Stehle parked himself under the basket and flourished, amassing a career-best 16 rebounds to go with 13 points. Sinay’s 19 points included four 3-pointers, while Merritt poured in 16 points and Thompson added nine points. HP’s Nate Palmer led both sides with 25 points.
As this was going on, the Marcellus girls basketball team, once 0-7, earned the first-place trophy at Skaneateles by gaining revenge against the host Lakers in a 42-40 thriller.