As they charged down the stretch, each of the Marcellus basketball teams used late victories over Homer to make the field for the Section III Class B playoffs.
At 6-10 when the final week of the regular season started, the boys Mustangs knew it had to beat the Trojans twice to get to the coveted .400 mark needed for post-season qualification.
Part one of the home-and-home series took place last Monday, at Marcellus, where the hosts used a dominant first half to cruise toward a 61-51 victory over the Trojans.
The Mustangs set a blistering pace, more than doubling Homer’s total. By the time they reached the break, Marcellus had a 42-16 edge.
Though it tailed off in the second half, the Mustangs were safe. Kyle Hastings had much to do with that, amassing 25 points as Nick Sinay, with 11 points, and Garrett Thompson, with nine points, offered the main support.
When it went to Homer for the return match Friday night, Marcellus ignored the win-or-else pressure and, again led by Hastings, beat the Trojans by that same 10-point margin, this time 54-44.
Steadily, the Mustangs worked it its way to a 33-27 halftime lead. Just as important was what it did in the third quarter, holding Homer to four points to cover up its own offensive struggles and develop a reasonable cushion.
All told, Hastings had 22 points, with ample help from Sinay, who had 14 points, and Duncan Merritt, who earned 14 points. Brent Quinlan led Homer with 14 points of his own.
Remarkably, the Marcellus girls basketball team had the same task ahead of them - beat Homer twice to get into the playoffs – and achieved the exact same satisfying result.
In the first of the wins over the Trojans, a 55-32 romp last Monday night, strong defense aided the Mustangs as it steadily gained a 28-12 edge by halftime.