By playing three times in a span of 48 hours, the Liverpool boys basketball team underwent a thorough examination as it worked through the Elmira Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament -- and would come out of it feeling quite good, having won twice.
As it turned out, the Warriors' toughest assignment came at the start on Saturday afternoon, as it went up against Section VI power Jamestown and took a 57-45 loss to the Red Raiders.
Jamestown is arguably the second-strongest team in the Section VI ranks behind state power Niagara Falls, and showed it by holding Liverpool to a single field goal in the first quarter.
From that initial 10-2 deficit, Liverpool would fare better as the game went on, but still fall behind 37-22 before a late, futile offense flurry that the Red Raiders would match.
Jesse Gates poured in 20 points, matching his season average and accounting for half the Warriors' field goals. JaHeem Hogan, with eight points, and Matt Harrington, with seven points, offered some support.
A day later, relegated to the consolation bracket, Liverpool would bounce back, rallying in the fourth quarter to beat Corning West 54-50 in a game where, at long last, Gates did not have to carry the offensive load.
Corning West used a 19-10 second-quarter spurt to go in front, 28-22. The Warriors made up most of the deficit in the second half, though, and then outscored Corning West 17-12 in the last period.
With Gates held to 10 points, other players had to step up -- and did so. Jeff Chase hit on five 3-pointers and set a career mark with 19 points, while Cam Jones worked inside for 14 points.
To wrap up tournament play Monday afternoon, Liverpool dominated against Newfield in the course of a 61-31 victory.
Throughout the game, the Warriors' defense shut down whatever Newfield tried to establish while, at the other end, continuing to find better distribution.
Rebounding a bit from his quiet Corning West outing, Gates had 20 points. Chase and Harrington both put up 11 points and Jones earned nine points.
So the Warriors were 6-2 going into 2009 and will get to be home Saturday to face Rochester Aquinas, from the Section V ranks, before a Tuesday trip to West Genesee, where Jerry Wilcox coached before coming to Liverpool.