At least in December, the Fayetteville-Manlius boys basketball team made a regular Tuesday-night habit out of putting the home fans through a tense and nervous battle, then sending them out of the gym in a happy mood.
Having already done this against Corcoran and Nottingham, the Hornets repeated the behavior against Baldwinsville, struggling all the way until it made the key baskets down the stretch and won its fifth in a row over the Bees, 57-51.
B'ville arrived at 3-2, but those two defeats were to Utica Proctor and Henninger, acknowledged as the Class AA title favorites, so the team's quality was never in question.
As if on cue, the Bees seized the early lead, then took a 31-27 advantage to the break. But as it made proper defensive adjustments, F-M erased the deficit by the end of the third quarter and got even, 40-40.
Neither side got away in the final period, and the Hornets needed to draw upon its proven ability to produce in the clutch -- which it did, again, as senior point guard Ethan Gilbert had five of his 13 points in that frame.
Pat Lee, fresh off his monstrous 39-point, 19-rebound outing against Central Square on Dec. 15, could not repeat that feat, but he still led F-M with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Scott Kleinklaus, with 11 points, and Greg Gilroy, with nine points, took on much larger roles to relieve some pressure off Lee and Gilbert. F-M's defense did a solid job on the Bees' leading scorer, Luke MacDougall, holding him to 13 points.
On Friday night, the Hornets visit Bishop Ludden, looking for six in a row.