ESM settles for second place in Celi Tournament

Spartans drop tight title game to Auburn

— Sean Richardson led the Spartans with 20 points as he, along with both McDuffie brothers (Jeff had 19 points), made the All-Tournament team. Underwood added 11 points as Charles matched Ward's total of 20 points.

Both sides got there by winning close decisions in the opening round. ESM turned back Mexico 58-53, while Auburn used some last-second heroics to edge past Baldwinsville 66-65.

For the Spartans, Mexico proved far from an easy mark. Strong defense in the first quarter helped limit the Tigers to seven points, and that gave ESM time to see its own offense warm up, eventually building a 25-19 halftime margin.

All through the second half, any time Mexico, led by Patrick Twiss (17 points) and Justin Marsden (16 points), tried to get closer, ESM had a ready answer, thanks to a three-pronged attack.

Jeff McDuffie led with 17 points, just ahead of Richardson's total of 16 points and Jah-meer McDuffie's 14-point effort. Underwood, with nine points, got close to double figures.

This followed a dramatic game between Auburn and Baldwinsville. Trailing by 21 late in the first half and by 11 in the fourth quarter, the Maroons somehow rallied and won it when, down 64-63 and time running low, Charles drained a 3-pointer from the corner with 3.6 seconds left.

B'ville would rebound from that bitter disappointment and beat Mexico 75-58 in Friday's consolation game, Kevin Drain leading the way as he earned 26 points, 18 of them in the second half.

With the loss in the title game, ESM was left with a 5-3 mark going into the new year.

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