Few things give a Marcellus fan more satisfaction than beating Skaneateles, regardless of the sport or circumstances.
In the case of the boys basketball Mustangs, the circumstances were a non-league contest played Saturday at Onondaga Community College, and the occasion brought forth a classic battle where Marcellus, relying on a big third-quarter surge, had enough to beat the Lakers 65-61.
An active first half saw the Mustangs surrender an early lead as Skaneateles, trying to recover from a 2-4 start, moved out in front in the second quarter and carried a 32-28 lead to the break.
Everything changed, though, in the third period, as Marcellus exploited holes in the Lakers’ defense and outscored them 25-15 in those pivotal eight minutes. Then it stayed calm as Skaneateles charged at them down the stretch, making several crucial free throws.
Jordan Bandera led the Mustangs (4-3) with 19 points, with Mike Dillon close behind as he got 16 points. Mike Melnyczuk, with 11 points, also hit double figures as Mike Hastings (eight points) and Wyatt Stehle (six points) helped out. Bobby Leslie led Skaneateles with 16 points.
Solvay had gone to Chittenango’s “More Than a Game” Tournament on Dec. 27-28, a benefit for Golisano Children’s Hosptial, and found some measure of success, though it couldn’t quite gain the championship.
In fact, the Bearcats beat host Chittenango 49-25 in the opening round, mostly on the strength of its defense, which held the Bears silent for long stretches of the first half as it bolted out to a 29-9 lead.
Cody Pucello, with 13 points, was the only player on either side to score in double figures. Tyler Cardinell, with nine points, and John Dippold, with eight points, offered ample support as Jesse Payne added six points. Jordan Sass and Dan Filsinger led Chittenango with nine points apiece, most of that in the late going.
In the final Dec. 28 against Massena (Section X), the Bearcats got close to earning the first-place trophy, but lost a 52-48 decision to the Red Raiders.