Good performances against foes like Utica Proctor and CBA had showed the Liverpool boys basketball team that it could keep up with anyone.
Now, the trick in the closing weeks of the regular season was to gain both wins and momentum for a Section III Class AA playoff run -- which the Warriors did, looking quite good both times it took the floor.
Everything clicked for the Warriors last Tuesday night, against Central Square, where it nearly doubled the Red Hawks' output in a 62-32 romp in front of the home folks.
Liverpool pulled clear by nearly shutting down Central Square, outscoring them 29-8 in the second and third quarters.
The Warriors matched blinding defense with near-perfect offensive balance. T.J. Davis had 12 points, while Steve Nickels and Adam Bottorff each earned 11 points. Jeff Sills had eight points, with Mike Buckenmeyer and Mike Marsella contributing seven points apiece.
Now Liverpool wanted to repeat that sterling effort in Friday's game against 12-5 Auburn. Somehow, it managed to do so, especially in the second half of a 55-37 victory over the Maroons.
A strong first quarter helped, but Auburn still managed enough offense in the second period to slash the Warriors' advantage to 31-27 by halftime.
What followed, in the third and fourth quarters, was near-perfect defensive execution on Liverpool's part. It limited Auburn to a mere 10 points, harassing them all over the court -- and allowing the Warriors to pull clear.
On the other end, three players spread the offensive wealth. Davis got 13 points, while Nickels earned 12 points and Marsella picked up 11 points. Damien Whitaker (11 points) and Jimmy Pitts (10 points) led the Auburn effort.
Now back at the .500 mark (9-9), Liverpool risks it Tuesday night against archrival Cicero-North Syracuse, then will finish the regular season playing its other neighbor, Baldwinsville, in the Baker High School gym on Friday night.