Dec 30, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
All of the hometown pressure was placed on the East Syracuse-Minoa boys basketball team as it strove to win the 11th annual Vince Celi Memorial Tournament.
In Saturday’s championship game, the Spartans faced Union-Endicott, and put up a strong all-out effort, but could not quite get the championship as it lost to the Tigers 74-67.
A day earlier, in the opening round, ESM had watched U-E defeat Baldwinsville 66-56, and then had gone out to face Auburn, where a terrific defensive effort proved to be the difference in a 51-46 victory over the Maroons.
All through the first half, Auburn struggled to establish any sort of rhythm in the face of ESM’s pressure. That allowed the Spartans to get away with modest production and slowly work its way to a 23-15 halftime lead.
Then, in the third quarter, the Maroons woke up, more than doubling its output and cutting ESM’s margin to 39-36. Through it all, the Spartans stayed cool and clamped down again down the stretch, hanging on in the process.
Auburn’s Trent Ward, who had 22 points, led all scorers, but ESM proved to have two potent threats. Sean Richardson led the way, with 19 points, while Jah-Meer McDuffie earned 17 points.
This led to the final against Union-Endicott, and ultimately the Spartans would pay for a first half where its defense was constantly burned. The Tigers, pushing the pace and finding all kinds of success doing so, steadily built a 42-30 halftime lead.
By the time ESM started to assert itself in the fourth quarter, the deficit had grown to 58-43, and U-E could afford a bit of relaxation so long as the Spartans didn’t get too close.
Still, the hosts battled to the end as McDuffie, with 16 points, led a well-balanced scoring effort. Richardson poured in 15 points, while Eyan Underwood stepped up for 14 points. Brandon Breen, with 10 points, also hit double figures, and Corey Beeles, with nine points, nearly did so. Before that, in the consolation game, Baldwinsville edged Auburn 48-43.
As this went on, the ESM girls basketball team, who entered the Celi Tournament with a 3-2 mark, could not win either of its games against a strong pair of opponents.
Like their male counterparts, these Spartans also faced Auburn – but did so in the opening round on Dec. 27, and one big spurt late in the first half made the difference as the Spartans lost to the Maroons 53-41.
Trailing 16-12 after one period, ESM rallied to move in front, 24-23, only to have Auburn go on an 11-0 run in a span of less than three minutes just before the halftime break.
Try as it could, the Spartans could not recover from that surge, seeing the Maroons nurse a double-digit lead through most of the second half, overcoming 12 points from Haley Wise and 10 points from Ashley Scalzo as Danielle Ventrone added eight points. Annie Giannone led Auburn with 21 points, seven assists and six steals.
ESM would meet Whitesboro (who lost 55-47 to Baldwinsville) in the consolation game and got off to a glorious start – but could not follow it up, and it led to a 62-52 defeat to the Warriors.
Hot shooting in the first quarter helped the Spartans streak to a 22-11 lead. Yet most of that margin was gone by halftime, as Whitesboro stormed back and pulled within one, 29-28.
Even though the third quarter was an active one, the Warriors sneaked out in front, and instead of answering, ESM managed just eight points in the final period as a series of free throws helped the visitors put it away.
Edmonds finished with 18 points, half of them from three 3-pointers. Sydni Eure had 13 points, with Scalzo (nine points), Ventrone (eight points) and Wise (six points) close behind. Maria Lapertosa led Whitesboro’s rally, pouring in 29 points.
The championship game followed, and Baldwinsville, led by tournament MVP Hope DeFazio, defeated Auburn 68-54.