No one on the Liverpool boys basketball team had any illusions about the challenge it faced last Thursday night, when it visited defending Section III Class AA champion Utica Proctor.
To have any chance, the Warriors knew it had to hit outside shots and, if at all possible, slow down the tempo to something the Raiders did not want.
Liverpool took care of the shooting part, burying 11 3-point field goals on the night -- but the pace remained quick, and the Raiders still beat the Warriors 71-64.
Proctor was without guard Mario Whitehurst, freeing up the perimeter a bit. And Liverpool took full advantage, especially in the third quarter, when it erased a 12-point deficit. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Zack Crotty produced a 50-50 tie with one quarter to play.
Down the stretch, Proctor maintained its poise and went ahead for good, mostly boosted by its star junior forward, Deandre Preaster. He piled up 10 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 16 rebounds.
For its part, the Warriors had a deep and balanced attack. T.J. Davis hit four of those 3-pointers and had a team-best 16 points, while Matt Palmer gainee 12 points. Adam Botoroff (eight points) and Steve Nickels (seven points) were close behind, with Crotty, Jason Bellinger and Mike Marsella earning six points apiece.
Preaster was not the only Proctor standout. His teammate, Wesley Jackson, threw in 23 points as well, while Ronald Tarver earned 16 points.
As for the Warriors, it met West Genesee (the team Jerry Wilcox coached before coming to Liverpool) Tuesday night in Camillus, then is home Friday night to take on Oswego.