More than a decade has passed since the Liverpool boys basketball team last basked in the glory of a Section III Class AA title. Maybe this is the season the Warriors go back to the top.
With a stellar returning cast that includes All-Central New York candidate Jesse Gates, and the decades of coaching experince Jerry Wilcox brings to the bench, Liverpool has high ambition this winter.
And the first week of CNY Counties League play will say plenty about where the Warriors stand, as it hosts Fayetteville-Manlius on Wednesday, then travels to Henninger's newly-minted Joe Mazella Court two nights later to face the Black Knights.
At least Liverpool goes there with some confidence, generated by gaining the championship of last weekend's Roma Tournament at Union-Endicott High School near Binghamton.
As it turned out, Friday's opening round proved to be the tougher of the two games. Maine-Endwell pushed the Warriors all the way to the wire, but a superb second-half surge from Connor Rogers helped produce a 63-60 victory over the Spartans.
Maine-Endwell seized the early 18-13 advantage, and though Liverpool had better success containing the Spartans in the second period, it still trailed 30-26 going into the break.
But as the third quarter started, Rogers caught fire. With Maine-Endwell rightly concerned about Gates (he had 20 points, including four 3-poniters), Rogers kept getting open - and kept converting - as the Warriors tied it, 42-42, before the fourth quarter started.
Right through the stretch, Rogers remained Liverpool's primary option, and his free throws helped Liverpool go eight-for-nine from the line in that final period.
Overall, Rogers had 25 points, 20 of them in the second half, and Ian Hamm also helped out with 10 points. As a whole, Liverpool pounded the glass, too, earning 18 offensive rebounds.
In Saturday's final, the Warriors faced host Union-Endicott, who beat Owego 64-53 in the other half of the opening round.