Gaining momentum each time it takes the floor, the Fayetteville-Manlius boys basketball team continued to get high production from its best player and consistent contributions from those around them.
For the second consecutive Tuesday night, the Hornets defended its home court against a tough city foe in a closely-fought battle, following up its opening win over Corcoran on Dec. 4 by conquering Nottingham 52-49 this time around.
Each side had its run in the first half, and they went to halftime tied 24-24. By slowing things down, though, the Hornets were able to frustrate the Bulldogs enough to grab small leads all night.
Still, it wasn't until guard Brett Small sank two free throws with 2.6 seconds left that the Hornets were safe. Of Small's nine points, seven came from the foul line, a testament to the fact that F-M wants the ball in his hands when protecting a slim lead.
Pat Lee again controlled the paint, putting up 17 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Alex Muller, like Small, stepped up from a supporting role to post 11 points, mostly from a trio of successful 3-point shots, while point guard Ethan Gilbert had eight points. Tyshon Goode (13 points) and Yohance Patterson (10 points) led Nottingham's effort.
Now F-M went for four in a row Friday night, at Central Square -- and got it in a very unique manner.
Great as Lee has been in his Hornet tenure, he never was as dominant as he was during the Hornets' 77-64 victory over the Red Hawks.
As far as the game was concerned, F-M moved ahead in the second quarter, had a 40-34 lead at the break, then pulled away in the late going.
Meanwhile, Lee tore up Central Square in every imaginable way. He piled up 15 field goals, swatted shots, sank seven of eight free throws and stepped back to make a trio of 3-pointers (a first), all the while owning the paint.
By game's end, Lee had earned 39 points, a career high. He also had 19 rebounds, six steals, five blocks and four assists. Scott Kleinklaus would prove some help, with 10 points, while Small earned eight points.
F-M went for five in a row Tuesday night, against Baldwinsville, before a Friday-night road trip to Bishop Ludden.