By the time the first full week of December was done, the Fayetteville-Manlius girls basketball team would know a lot more about its own character.
And the Hornets must like what it sees, especially after handing defending Section III Class AA champion Rome Free Academy its first defeat last Friday night, toppling the Black Knights 50-45.
Much had changed since upstart F-M fell to RFA, 46-31, in last year's sectional Class AA semifinal. Gone was Nikki Jo Rotolo, the Black Knights' all-time leading scorer, and long-time head coach Karen Gaesser had departed, too, after her team's first-ever sectional title was attained.
F-M saw all this, but still knew that RFA would be tough. Sure enough, the Hornets played superb defense in the first half and grabbed a 24-16 edge, but the Black Knights made it all up in the third period and got even, 32-32.
With the issue in doubt, F-M rode the combined efforts of Torie Lee, Emily Trapani and Kelly Radigan, whose fine all-around play helped push the Hornets to take the fourth quarter, 18-13, and come out on top.
All told, Lee had 21 points, including both her team's 3-point field goals. Trapani earned 14 points, while Radigan earned 12 points. By contrast, Lyndsay Brognano led RFA with just 11 points.
Through the years, the Hornets had many issues with long-time Class AA power Corcoran. But in last Tuesday's night's meeting, F-M visited the city's south side and produced a 42-39 victory over the Cougars.
Playing its usual blend of strong and merciless defense, F-M limited Corcoran to just 13 points in the first half, then spent the rest of the game fending off the Cougars' belated charges.
Emily Trapani, relatively quiet in the Jamesville-DeWitt Tip-Off Tournament, emerged here with 15 points. Morgan Axenfeld threw in nine points, while Lee was held to seven points, the same number as Radigan.
Passing by Corcoran and RFA gave the Hornets a 3-1 record and a 2-0 mark in league play, plus lots of momentum going into games against Nottingham and Central Square this week.