Not until the calendar hit 2012 did the East Syracuse-Minoa boys basketball team taste defeat – but when it did, it happened twice in a four-day span.
First, the Spartans got victimized at home by Skaneateles in a 78-65 defeat in a game moved back from its original Dec. 1 date because many of the ESM players had not made the full transition from fall sports.
The Lakers kept right up with ESM through a high-scoring first half, trading baskets and inching into a 36-35 lead by the time they reached the break.
They were still tight, at 46-44, in the third quarter when Skaneateles guard Jimmy Atkinson took over. He hit on back-to-back 3-pointers to stretch the Lakers’ margin to 52-44, and hit on seven more points (including four free throws), carrying Skaneateles to a 64-52 advantage.
All through the fourth quarter, Atkinson and Brandon Barron, who poured in 23 points of his own, converted to counter ESM’s comeback attempts. By hitting on 17 of the 19 free throws he attempted, Atkinson finished with 35 points overall.
ESM, in defeat, saw Keith Caiello (14 points), Bobby Campese (13 points) and Casey Sullivan (10 points) reach double figures.
Instead of a chance to recover from the end of its seven-game win streak, ESM now had to go on the road for its only regular-season meeting with Class A power Cortland on Friday night. And here, the Purple Tigers were in control all the way, beating the Spartans 63-53.
It took a while for ESM to adjust to the loud, raucous setting of Cortland’s gym, as it only managed eight points in the first quarter. Though the production picked up, the Purple Tigers kept adding to its margin until the Spartans trailed, 38-21, at halftime.
Not until the fourth quarter did the Spartans start to eat into that margin, as Brandon Russell earned 13 points and Jeff McDuffie put up 12 points. Campese and Tyler Johnson managed seven points apiece, with Sullivan and Sean Richardson each getting six points.