SYRACUSE For nearly a week, the Bishop Grimes boys basketball team sat and waited to get a shot at action again after a last-second defeat to Phoenix on Dec. 13.
When the Cobras returned Wednesday night, it was at Syracuse Academy of Science, where it handed the Atoms its first loss of the season, prevailing by a score of 66-61.
In a year of heavy transition in the OHSL Liberty division, SAS was another league newcomer. But the Atoms, who reached the state Class C final in 2011, had already proved itself a sturdy opponent with a 4-0 start that included narrow home wins over Skaneateles and Westhill.
As such, Grimes knew how tough it would be inside SAS's home gym, nicknamed "The Lab", and for 32 minutes it lived up to that exact billing, sometimes in a literal way.
SAS fought its way to a 17-12 lead late in the first quarter, setting a brisk pace and often going inside to its star center, Ramo Ozkan, who proved himself an equal to Grimes' star center, Jon Carnegie.
But the Cobras used a 9-0 run that stretched into the second period to regain control, and never trailed again, though SAS would tie it twice before Grimes grabbed a 33-29 edge at the half.
For the entire second half, the Cobras would protect a single-digit lead, never getting further ahead than nine points, 46-37, late in the third quarter. But that cushion vanished when SAS scored eight straight points, moving within one, 46-45, early in the final period.
Further hurting Grimes' chances was seeing Casey Evans go to the bench after breaking his nose on a scramble for a loose ball. But he only missed three minutes of game time, and then returned for the final stretch.
With less than three minutes left, Grimes led 56-55, but put the game away with a 10-2 run, two baskets apiece from Connor Evans and Tom Steinberg, who benefited from the attention given to the Cobras' main threats.