In their own respective leagues, the Syracuse Academy of Science and Henninger boys basketball teams have risen to the top, which could prove a harbinger of more success in the upcoming Section III playoffs.
With a wild 94-80 victory over Institute of Technology Central Monday night, the SAS Atoms wrapped up the Onondaga High School League Patriot National division title for the second season in a row and moved to 15-2 on the season.
Then the Black Knights took its turn Tuesday night, pulling away from Liverpool 74-59 to lock up the CNY Counties League National division crown, having gone through 10 league games without a blemish (Henninger is 14-3 overall).
SAS had opened the season Dec. 10 against ITC, winning 74-61 on that occasion - though it took a 25-8 fourth-quarter blitz by the Atoms to pull it out. Since then, the Eagles had built a 13-3 mark and found a go-to player in Jahcin Ingram, who was averaging more than 20 points per game.
Ingram would top himself in the rematch against SAS - but only in response to the Atoms' second-quarter blitz. Slicing right through ITC's defense, SAS outscored the Eagles 33-11 in those eight minutes, establishing a 58-31 lead going into the break.
Then Ingram began to heat up, carrying the Eagles as it cut into SAS's margin in a 30-17 third quarter. By the time the night was done, Ingram had amassed 40 points from 12 field goals and 14 successful free throws.
Still, the Atoms had too big of a margin, and more balance on the offensive side. Dakeem McLain finished with 26 points, while DeOndray Tape put in 19 points, Kaleel Johnson added 18 points and Ahmet Tunall contributed 17 points.
As SAS basked in its latest league title, Henninger was basking from a recent strong stretch of play that had included, on Feb. 10, a 79-53 rout of West Genesee where it had blown open a close contest with a big second half.