For the second time in as many weeks, the Marcellus boys basketball team pulled out an exciting verdict on the road.
This time around, the opponent was Bishop Grimes. And it took Will Nolan's clutch outside shooting and cool concentration at the free-throw line made the difference as the Mustangs beat the Cobras 67-62 on Wednesday night.
Quite unlike its 70-68 win at Cazenovia on Nov. 27, the Mustangs never built a big lead and watched it erode away. Instead, it was the team making the second-half rally.
Grimes, to some degree, defied some logic when it made a 17-2 run in the first quarter to go out in front after Marcellus scored the game's first six points.
Eric Ball, the Cobras' star forward, had put up 33 points in a season-opening loss to Hannibal on Nov. 30. Here, the Mustangs drew Ball into foul trouble (three in the first half), holding him to a single field goal in that half and just nine points overall.
Yet Grimes still went in front, maintaining that 30-25 edge all the way to halftime. The work of freshman Mike Stone off the bench had something to do with it, as eight of his 13 points came before the break.
At one point early in the third quarter, Marcellus trailed 39-32, but it completely turned things around by going on a 15-3 run to close the period. Scott Cotter, Will Fiacchi, Matt Fox, Jeff Watson and Dan Heil all had baskets in this stretch, and Cotter capped it off with an open lay-up as the buzzer sounded.
Here, Nolan took over. He converted a three-point play and drained a 3-pointer to push the Mustangs' lead to 53-47, then had to watch as Grimes staged its own comeback, catching up at 55-55 and exchanging baskets until the final minute of regulation.