Christian Brothers Academy and Bishop Grimes will send their respective boys basketball teams into the same cauldron next Tuesday when they take on top-seeded opponents in the Section III playoffs.
For the no. 9 seed Brothers in Class AA, that will mean facing Fayetteville-Manlius, a chance earned when it went to no. 8 seed Oswego in Friday night's opening round and took out the Buccaneers 55-49.
Back in East Syracuse, the Cobras, carrying the no. 8 seed in Class B, earned an impressive 64-44 victory over no. 9 seed Phoenix and now gets a look at no. 1 seed South Jefferson, who didn't face nearly the kind of schedule Grimes did within the OHSL Liberty division.
As it has for a while now, CBA played the regular season against mostly Class A foes in the OHSL Freedom division before heading up into the AA ranks. Yet it only managed a 9-9 record, while Oswego went 10-8 and had home-court advantage for this playoff meeting.
Through an active first quarter, the Brothers kept up, only trailing 17-16. Then it made defensive adjustments, which started to manifest itself when CBA held the Bucs to seven points the rest of the half, taking a 30-24 lead in the process.
Just as important was the poise CBA showed after Oswego closed the gap to 38-37 by the time they reached the fourth quarter. Steeled by all the tough games it had faced, the Brothers made the key shots - and the key stops - down the stretch.
At the center of it all was Charlie Russo, the Brothers' leading scorer all season. Russo poured in 25 points on this night, draining three of his team's five 3-pointers, while Will Brower added 10 points and Alex Brunner got six points.
Though the Bucs had a well-balanced attack, no one got close to Russo's production as Ryan Lavner had 11 points and Dustin Sands added 10 points.