As the horn sounded Friday night, Marcellus students poured onto the court to celebrate a Senior Night punctuated by a tremendous boys basketball victory over a rival that, not so long ago, was undefeated.
How the Mustangs, sporting a modest 8-9 record, stepped up to take out 17-1 Skaneateles 55-44 was no big secret, mostly having to do with a defense that learned plenty from a 58-46 defeat it took to the Lakers late in December.
Skaneateles had won 15 in a row before falling to Bishop Ludden on Jan. 29, but found itself in trouble here as Marcellus, fired up by an overflow home crowd, hit some shots early and crawled into the lead.
Bigger still was what happened in the third quarter. Seniors Liam Tierney, Connor Rogalia and the rest of the Mustangs stifled the Lakers, holding them to six points in that frame to establish a 41-31 lead that held up in the late going.
Offensively, Luke Ingianni had 18 points, half of it from three 3-pointers. Rogalia and Matt Kershaw each had nine points as Tristan Jarvi contributed 10 points.
Before all this, Jordan-Elbridge visited Marcellus last Tuesday night, and despite its many ups and downs this winter, the Eagles still had Jeremiah Sparks on hand, and again he made a big difference in a 60-55 victory over the Mustangs.
The whole game was close, with scoring runs traded, but little separation. J-E only led 25-23 at halftime, and as the pace picked up a bit Marcellus spread its production around and stayed within range. Jarvi, with 14 points, paced the Mustangs, while Kershaw got 13 points. Ingianni, with 11 points, also hit double figures.
Yet no one on Marcellus could contain Sparks, who, when he was not converting, drew contact. In all, Sparks hit 16 free throws and finished the night with 33 points as Dakota Holbrook added 13 points and Tyler Waldron got six points.
Later in the week, J-E clinched a winning record for 2018-19 when Sparks went off for 40 points in J-E’s 82-45 rout of Hannibal. Deacon Hill helped out with 12 points, Holbrook adding 10 points as L.J. Barrigar finished with eight points.
Maybe it’s not the front-runner in Class B like so many times before, but at this time of year, it’s awfully difficult to discount Westhill, at least in terms of championship aspirations.
The Warriors have won eight in a row since falling to Bishop Ludden on Jan. 17, including four in the last week alone.
Westhill began last week by hosting Phoenix and prevailing 57-35, limiting the Firebirds to just two points in the first and third quarters while building a 45-13 advantage. Ryan Gilmartin had 16 points, with Dan Washburn adding 12 points.
A night later, at Institute of Technology Central, the Warriors handled the Eagles 73-46, bolting out 20-7 in the first quarter and adding to that margin with five players scoring in double figures.
Washburn led with 19 points, while Charlie Bolesh rose up for 18 points, including four 3-pointers. Elliot Rouse continued his late-season surge with 12 points as Gilmartin and Zach Brown had 11 points apiece.
More success followed Thursday against Homer, the Warriors handling the Trojans 66-38 as it led 38-12 by halftime, Washburn getting 20 points and Rouse adding 14 points. Bolesh, Jack Mooney and Phillip Bogan earned six points apiece.
Finally, Westhill thrashed Altmar-Parish-Williamstown 73-33 on Saturday in its fourth game in six days. Brown and Liam Sanborn each hit four 3-pointers as Brown got 19 points and Sanborn 12 points, with Bolesh contributing 13 points.
Solvay returned to action Friday night, also facing ITC, and prevailed 65-60, overcoming 35 points by the Eagles’ Edwin Seton as it built a 38-28 halftime edge and held on from there.
Brock Bagozzi, hitting three 3-pointers, and Justin Scott each finished with 19 points. Robby Clark added 10 points as the Bearcats improved to 12-7 and awaited Monday’s regular-season finale at J-E.