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Chittenango, Canastota hoops teams ousted

At home or not, the basketball teams from Chittenango and Canastota met the same fate on Tuesday night - first-round elimination from the Section III playoffs.

In boys Class A action, the no. 8 seed Bears found itself trailing no. 9 seed East Syracuse-Minoa most of the way, and a late surge by the Spartans led to a 61-45 defeat.

The two sides were familiar OHSL Freedom division rivals, having split two regular-season meetings, each side winning at home. Chittenango had the home-court advantage this time, but it did them little good.

A pattern quickly established itself - the Spartans moving in front, the Bears trying in vain to respond. ESM roared to a 13-5 lead in the opening minutes, but the Bears caught up by the end of the first period and tied it, 15-15, early in the second quarter.

But the Spartans' active zone defense kept giving Chittenango problems, and it only managed one field goal in the last 6:33 of the half as ESM went back in front, 25-17, going into the break.

Through the third quarter, it continued as every time the Bears inched closer, the Spartans would answer - and what happened at the end of the period proved decisive.

Down by just five, 37-32, Chittenango had a chance to enter the final period with momentum. Instead, ESM's Matt Placito hit a 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer, and it sparked a decisive 14-2 run, Placito getting eight of those points.

In defeat, Devin Christopher led Chittenango (9-10) with 12 points, while Mike Scott posted 10 points and Brendan Galek added nine points. Placito got 12 of his 14 points in the second half as three of his ESM teammates - Casey Sullivan, Sharif Nero and Ryan Dadey - got eight points apiece.

As this went on, both of Canastota's basketball teams plunged into the sectional Class B playoffs - and both were quickly ousted.

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