The Lakers had beaten the Mustangs 61-50 on Dec. 16, but were worn-out from a thrilling overtime win over West Genesee the night before. Sensing this, Marcellus hung around throughout the first half and then inched in front, 31-29, by the end of the third quarter.
Somehow, the Mustangs held on in the homestretch, getting 13 points from both Lauren Soule and Molly MacLachlan, with Bethanie Abbott adding seven points and Brielle Filtch adding six points.
Marcellus held Skaneateles center Joanna Dobrovosky to a single field goal, something that Elizabeth Lane (11 points) and Emily Call (10 points) could not make up for.
Marcellus earned its shot at Skaneateles with the defense it played against Clinton in a 37-20 opening-round romp. The Mustangs jumped all over the Warriors in a 17-2 first-quarter blitz and never got caught, the margin growing to 33-10 by the end of the third period.
Filtch and MacLachlan led Marcellus with nine points apiece. Soule and Abbott each had seven points, the same sort of balance it would display a day later in the finals.
Before all this, the boys Mustangs finally broke a season-opening, six-game skid, taking out Jordan-Elbridge 75-49 on Dec. 23. Marcellus bolted from the gate by gaining a 25-11 lead at the end of the first quarter and cruising the rest of the way, especially during an 18-8 third-quarter spurt.
Five Marcellus players scored in double figures. Merritt led with 19 points, with Sinay and Thompson each gaining 15 points. Stehle and Cole Walsh each had 11 points.
For J-E, Leland Holmes again set the pace, earning 19 points, while Logan Smart picked up nine points. John Quinn, Jared Bard and Colyn Hanley each had six points.
The Eagles also lost 68-62 to Hannibal in the first round of its own holiday tournament. The Warriors used a 27-15 blitz through the second quarter to erase J-E’s early lead, eventually gaining a 58-46 edge through three periods.
Holmes, with 16 points, and Smart, with 15 points (including three 3-pointers), led J-E’s effort as Jared Bard added 12 points and Gale Thorpe had eight points. Curtis Baker and Jake Shortslef led Hanibal with 18 points apiece.