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Leto shakes off losing skid

With one of the county's newest programs facing a team that hadn't won a game in more than two years, it was bound to be a historic night for someone.

As it turned out, Leto erased their frustration at the expense of Sickles, using a 19-5 second-half run to earn a 46-37 victory in the season-opener for both teams.

"This has been a long time coming for these girls," said Leto coach Derek Stewart. "It's great to get this off our backs. Now we can get on with the season."

Early on, however, it appeared the losing streak would continue. The upstart Gryphons, with a starting lineup that included two freshmen, jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead. Sickles recorded a couple of school firsts _ grabbing the opening tip, scoring its first field goal at the 5:54 mark, and the first free throw 50 seconds later.

But Leto rebounded with a ball-control offense that slowed the game long enough for its offense to get untracked. But in the meantime, Sickles' offense got hot as well.

Leto forward Jeanette Lopez's two free throws gave the Falcons their first lead at 18-17 with just over two minutes left in the first half, but the Gryphons would bounce back.

Freshman forward Renea Phelps and sophomore guard Melissa Castora combined for 22 points, helping Sickles to a 32-27 lead with 2:50 remaining in the third period. But it would be their last lead.

The Falcons mounted a furious rally, jumpstarted by a 9-0 run to end the quarter, and went ahead 36-32. Sickles cut the margin to one but got no closer.

Sophomore forward Christina Exposisto scored nine points in the second half, including three key free throws. Lopez had 13 points before fouling out to help Leto to its first win since January, 1995.

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