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ESM boys win first league title since ‘83

Spartans top Fowler, share first place with CBA

— Whatever might take place in the Section III Class A playoffs that start this week, the East Syracuse-Minoa boys basketball team already has a permanent niche in the school’s athletic history.

When the Spartans beat Fowler 81-65 in Wednesday night’s regular-season finale, it clinched a share of the OHSL Freedom National division championship with Christian Brothers Academy.

Not since 1982-83 – a span of 29 years – has ESM won any sort of league title. But a 57-47 win over CBA on Dec. 13 helped set the stage for a league title run, even though the Brothers won the return engagement 64-54 on Jan. 31.

All the Spartans needed to do, for that share of the league crown, was beat a 1-14 Fowler squad. It wasn’t easy at first, as the Falcons led 21-20 through one period.

ESM’s defense tightened, though,and it doubled up on Fowler 22-11 the rest of the half to take control and expanded the lead to 61-46 by the end of the third quarter.

Jeff McDuffie led the way with 20 points, with Keith Caiello close behind as he got 18 points. Casey Sullivan, with 13 points, and Tyler Johnson, with 12 points, also hit double figures, while Bobby Campese added eight points. Fowler, in defeat, got 27 points from Floyd Hartford.

A night later, the ESM girls team clinched a winning record for 2011-12 when it beat Fowler 43-23, improving to 10-8 on the season.

Steadily, the Spartans accumulated a 35-17 lead through three periods. Gabby Eure dominated in the paint, her 22 points nearly matching the Falcons all by herself. Rebecca Nelson added seven points.

As it turned out, both of ESM’s teams ended up in the exact same spot – with the no. 6 seed in the sectional Class A bracket.

And like 2011, when the two Spartans met (and lost to) Jamesville-DeWitt, they will both play Cortland, who holds the no. 3 seed on the boys and girls ends, in a quarterfinal doubleheader Friday night, starting at 5:30.

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