In its fast finish to the regular season, the Liverpool boys basketball team had started to display a potent offense to match the superb defense that was present all season long.
But in last Tuesday night's Section III Class AA quarterfinal at Utica Proctor, the no. 8 seed Warriors' struggles to create baskets returned, thwarting a bid to upset the top-seed Raiders and leading to a 59-46 defeat.
To some degree, that result had its origin in game strategy. Knowing it could not get into a fast-paced game against the deep and athletic Raiders, the Warriors intended to be patient and take as much time off the 35-second shot clock as possible.
For one quarter, that worked, as Liverpool baffled Proctor with a zone defense and played Proctor to a 10-10 tie.
But over the course of the next two periods, Raider pressure led to turnovers (12 in the first half), a 13-3 run near the end of the first half, and forced Warrior shots well off the mark and a drought that would not let up.
By the time the third quarter ended, Liverpool stared at a 40-23 deficit, something it could not come close to overcoming.
Proctor focused its defense on the perimeter to prevent the Warriors from unleashing a 3-point barrage similar to what took place Dec. 14, when Liverpool put a scare into the Raiders.
It worked to near-perfection. Liverpool had just four 3-pointers all night, and no one reached double figures.
T.J. Davis, whose buzzer-beating trey beat Nottingham in the opening round two days earlier, led his side with nine points, while Mike Marsella and Steve Nickels earned seven points apiece and Matt Palmer got six points.
For the Raiders, Deandre Preaster piled up 16 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks and four steals, while Wesley Jackson also got 16 points and Rastafari Brown added 10 points.
Liverpool's season concluded with a mark of 12-10. The team's fast finish and spirited playoff run suggests a major upgrade in 2007-08, since players like Davis, Marsella and Adam Bottorff return.