Though only able to earn the no. 10 seed for the Section III Class B playoffs, the Marcellus boys basketball team still found itself in a situation where a trip to the semifinal round was within reach.
That was because the Mustangs had no one else in the OHSL Liberty division within its four-team bracket, so even though it would have to go on the road twice, Marcellus had to feel good about its chances.
And the Mustangs felt even better after last Wednesday night's opening round, when it steadily pulled away from no. 7 seed Sherburne-Earlville and rolled to a 72-45 win over the Marauders.
Even though the road trip was substantial, Marcellus still found itself fresher than S-E, as it held the Marauders to eight points in the first quarter and seized the lead for good.
Marcellus nearly doubled S-E's output in the second period and went to halftime in front 35-19. Every time the hosts tried to get closer, the Mustangs had a more emphatic response and pulled further away.
Steve Raven, with 20 points, led four Marcellus players in double figures. Kyle Hastings worked inside for 16 points, while Geoff Crysler picked up 15 points and Nick Sinay contributed 10 points.
Back home, Westhill, the no. 3 seed in Class B, began the defense of its sectional and state titles Wednesday with an emphatic performance as it thrashed no. 14 seed Clinton 84-44.
Pushing the tempo right from the opening tip, Westhill shredded Clinton's defenses in the first half on its way to a 52-23 advantage. As if that wasn't enough, it built the margin to 72-30 by the end of the third quarter before the reserves took over.
Kevin McAvoy, in particular, flourished against Clinton, recording 24 points. Gino Sgroi stepped up to hit five 3-pointers and finished with a season-best 15 points as Justin Biles put up 12 points and Nathan Nigolian added 12 points. Jacob Nigolian contributed seven points.
This leads Westhill to a Class B quarterfinal showdown with no. 11 seed Solvay, who beat the Warriors back on Feb. 4 behind a 29-point, 15-rebound performance from center Dan Aiello.
And the winner of that game could play Marcellus in the semifinals - if the Mustangs conquer no. 2 seed General Brown in its quarterfinal game at Dexter - which won't be easy, as the Lions smothered Canastota 72-35 in the opening round.