To say that the Fayetteville-Manlius boys basketball team was eager to get the 2008-09 season started would be a major understatement.
Unable to miss at all in the first half of last Thursday's game at Rome Free Academy, the Hornets did not cool off until it was well ahead of the Black Knights and on its way to an 83-57 victory.
F-M, coached by Tom Blackford, went 13-9 a season ago, falling to Utica Proctor in the Section III Class AA quarterfinals. Six seniors graduated, including Shane Bush, T.J. Wilson and Alex Mueller.
However, the Hornets had a strong returning cast for this season, including junior Brian Zapisek, the team's leading scorer last winter with 16.7 points per game who saw action in the Empire State Games during the summer.
And even though RFA knew what Zapisek could do, it could not prevent a first-quarter barrage by the entire F-M squad. By the time it was done, the Hornets had poured in 33 points in eight minutes, and it didn't stop there.
Seemingly able to do whatever it wanted against the Black Knights' overmatched defense, F-M had a 53-28 edge by halftime, and the lead grew to 68-38 before Blackford cleared his bench in the fourth quarter.
Through it all, Zapisek put up 26 points, hitting both inside and outside with a pair of 3-pointers. Fellow junior Mike O'Neil stepped up in a big way, earning 18 points to give the Hornets another strong offensive option.
F-M had plenty of depth, too, as Ethan Braddock finished with eight points and three others -- T.J. Earley, Erik Mueller and Jack Giles -- earned seven points apiece.
On Tuesday night, the Hornets have its home opener against Corcoran, then will rest for a week before visiting Baldwinsville.