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MARCELLUS — Less than two weeks ago, the Mustangs and Lakers duked it out in a contest that came down to the final seconds.

The two teams repeated the feat in their second match-up.

Marcellus' Nate Kellar hit the winning shot on a layup with seven seconds remaining as the Mustangs boys basketball team snuck past Skaneateles 48-46 Friday at Marcellus High School.

"All year we've been preaching to get the ball inside to our bigs, but as the game went on Nate took over a little bit," Marcellus coach Scott Cotter said. "We called a timeout, drew it up and I said, 'Let him go to work.' We spaced out the floor, Nate found a gap and did his thing."

Jerrod Gates led Marcellus with 12 points, while Kellar added 11 points and Nick Femano chipped in with 10.

Jake Reed had a game-high 18 points for the Lakers, and Jeremy Castle added nine points.

Prior to the winning shot, Skaneateles had tied the game when Justin McClanahan hit one of two free throws with 25 seconds remaining. The Mustangs took a timeout and called the play that ended up winning it.

"We stayed in the same defense that we had been running," Skaneateles coach Karl Norris said. "I had a couple of ideas during the timeout but the kids wanted to stay in the same defense. I put my best defender on him, but Nate made a tough shot."

Aside from an early five-point lead for the Mustangs midway through the opening quarter, the entire contest was back-and-forth. Skaneateles' biggest advantage came at the third-quarter buzzer when Matt Neumann threw a half-court pass to Kenny Peterson, who drilled a deep 3-pointer to put the Lakers up by six with only the fourth quarter remaining.

"I knew it wasn't over at that point," Norris said. "I felt really good though. My guys were fighting hard and I really liked what we were doing defensively. We didn't play perfect, but I liked where we were and I thought we'd make some shots down the stretch."

The Mustangs chipped away at the Skaneateles lead, eventually overcoming it when Kellar made consecutive baskets with 2:25 remaining.

After McClanahan tied the game in the final minute, the Lakers stuck to the defense that had been working to try and force overtime, but Kellar had no interest in an extra session. Following the dramatics of the last time the two teams met, Norris wasn't surprised it came down to the final shot in the rematch.

"Marcellus presents some match-up problems for us, but we present some match-up problems for them," Norris said. "I knew it was going to be a close game."

Marcellus (8-3) travels to Chittenango on Tuesday to begin a difficult stretch run toward sectionals.

"I love the group I've got," Cotter said. "This is my second year here, but the program has been through a lot of ups and downs and twists and turns. They've worked hard every single day and that's all I can ask. We've got a tough schedule down the stretch, so it's an uphill battle but we've put ourselves in a good position.

Skaneateles (3-7) will look to regroup following a hard-fought loss when it hosts Solvay on Tuesday.

"I'm proud of my guys," Norris said. "They fought and they fought and they fought."

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Sports writer Justin Ritzel can be reached at 282-2257 or at justin.ritzel@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenRitz.

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