Mar 09, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Even with a whole lot of pain in his injured foot, Marcellus boys basketball forward Will Fiacchi played from beginning to end in last Friday night’s Section III Class B-1 final against Westhill, giving his team exactly the effort it needed to win.
Yet the Warriors made sure the other Mustangs did not inflict any damage, and that proved to be the difference in a 56-44 defeat, the second time in three years Marcellus got denied a sectional title at Manley.
Head coach Jim Marsh said the difference in the game lay in the fact that Marcellus grew impatient against Westhill’s well-regarded defense, forcing bad shots, especially when it fell behind in the second half.
“We didn’t run our offense the way we wanted to,” Marsh said.
The Mustangs and Warriors had played twice in the regular season. Marcellus won the first meeting Jan. 6, the game where Fiacchi got injured. Without him to worry about, Westhill won the rematch a month later.
Just after being cleared to play, Fiacchi returned Feb. 27 to help the Mustangs upend defending champion Bishop Grimes in overtime in the B-1 semifinals. A week later, he was back in the starting lineup as Marcellus, at full strength, sought a championship.
And it meant a bit more this time around. These were the last set of championship games at Manley before it would be converted into a Syracuse University indoor practice facility.
Given how well Marcellus and Westhill knew each other, it was little surprise that the first half proved so close. Behind 13-9 after one period, Marcellus fought back and took its only lead, 21-20, late in the second quarter on a Fiacchi three-point play.
Westhill answered with a 6-0 run, but Fiacchi’s 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer pulled the Mustangs back within two, 26-24, going to the break.
It stayed close for much of the third quarter, but a disturbing trend began to take hold as Marcellus only got one field goal in the last 5:48 of the period.
Here, as in the rest of the game, guards Dan Heil and Will Nolan didn’t find much room to shoot while guarded by Mike McMullen and Nate Nigolian. Heil had nine points and Nolan six points, but neither would make a 3-pointer all night.
Gradually, that lack of production would take a toll. Mike Mascari’s 3-pointer at the end of the third period doubled Westhill’s lead to six, 39-33, and ignited a key 7-0 run. Marcellus never got too close again.
Playing through pain, Fiacchi still had 18 points. Westhill’s diverse attack featured McMullen getting 21 points, including a trio of 3-pointers, while Dan Ross worked inside for 15 points and Tom Fisher got most of his 10 points in the second half.
As Westhill moved on to face Hannibal in Tuesday night’s overall Class B final, the Mustangs completed a 19-4 season. Five seniors depart, including Heil, Zach Barbaro, Scott Cotter, Joe Cornish and Stu Canfield.
Still, with Fiacchi, Nolan and Niko Wagner leading a solid returning cast for 2009-10, Marcellus ought to contend once more.
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