Dec 06, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Everyone involved with the Fayetteville-Manlius boys basketball team sees an opportunity to really make noise in the 2009-10 season.
While many traditional powerhouses (like Henninger, CBA and Central Square) underwent massive roster turnover, the Hornets bring back three starters – Brian Zapisek, Mike O’Neil and Jack Giles.
More importantly, they have players well-versed in head coach Tom Blackford’s system, which puts a great emphasis on defense, the great equalizer in basketball – especially when the shots are not falling.
This was quite evident in Saturday’s season opener, when the Hornets’ ability to shut down an opponent made the difference in a 55-47 victory over Fairport in the Peppino’s Invitational at Henninger High School’s newly-dedicated Joe Mazella Court.
Fairport, considered one of the strongest programs in Section V (Rochester area), had a clear size advantage, in that it started players 6-8 (Max Brown) and 6-6 (Kevonte McClain). Despite this, F-M would have answers every time the Raiders tried to get away.
The Hornets erased a six-point first-quarter deficit to tie it, 15-15, at the end of the first quarter, but Fairport promptly went back in front and restored its six-point edge, 28-22, by halftime. A big part of it was the Red Raiders holding Zapisek, F-M’s leading returning scorer, to just three points.
All that changed in the third quarter – at least the part about Zapisek’s production. He hit on a 3-pointer, then put together three consecutive three-point plays, helping the Hornets catch up again at 38-38 as the game went to the final period.
Once again, Fairport appeared to have a reliable answer, outscoring F-M 9-4 early in that fourth quarter. But after McClain hit two free throws with 5:01 to play to make it 47-42, the Red Raiders would not score again.
In possession after possession, anywhere a Fairport player tried to dribble, he found defenders in green and white. The shots were contested, too, and F-M pounded the boards to prevent second-chance points.
F-M went ahead for good on Zapisek’s 3-pointer with 2:51 left, then added another key basket with 1:12 left to make it 50-47. Fairport, still cold from the field, was forced to foul – and watched as O’Neil and Andrew Murphy hit on five combined free throws in the final minute.
Zapisek carried the Hornets’ offense in that second half, scoring 23 of his team’s 33 points and 26 points overall. O’Neil produced 14 points, with Murphy and Giles getting seven points apiece.
F-M hits the road this week for a pair of tough tests, going to Liverpool (who won a tournament in Union-Endicott last weekend) on Wednesday and Corcoran on Friday night.