Dec 11, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Less than two minutes remained in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game, and the Skaneateles boys basketball team trailed Marcellus, by 10. Yet another defeat to a bitter rival seemed imminent.
But in one of the most remarkable single-game turnarounds in the program’s history, the Lakers reeled off the game’s last 12 points and stunned the Mustangs 59-57 as Kevin Rice sank the game-winning basket with 14 seconds left.
Marcellus still had two good chances to tie it – but close-in shots by Niko Wagner and Will Fiacchi both rolled off the rim, setting off a wild scene as Skaneateles students spilled onto the court to celebrate with the players.
“It’s always nice to beat Marcellus,” head coach Karl Norris said. “And it was a nice comeback.”
That would be an understatement.
Skaneateles arrived at the game coming off a 71-62 home loss to Bishop Grimes two nights earlier, a game where the Lakers’ defense struggled, especially in the first half, and allowed Cobras star Mike Stone to put up 30 points.
Now came Marcellus, a team the Lakers lost to in both of last season’s regular-season meetings. A full house in the Skaneateles gym would witness one of the most memorable chapters in this long-time rivalry.
The two sides stayed close throughout much of the first half until Marcellus, using a 12-4 run, sped out to a 30-21 advantage at the break, with Fiacchi getting 17 of those points on everything from runners to 3-pointers.
Actually, the second half would feature two comebacks. Skaneateles would trail by as much as 12 before a 10-2 run in the third quarter, and it remained tight, 49-47, before the Mustangs appeared to put the game away midway through the fourth quarter.
Between a Fiacchi lay-up and 3-pointers from Steve Raven and Will Nolan, Marcellus put Skaneateles in a 57-47 bind. With time winding down, the Lakers’ only chance lay in (1) hitting some outside shots and (2) having the Mustangs miss free throws.
And that’s exactly what took place.
The rally began quietly, with Rice hitting two free throws with 1:41 left. Quickly, the Lakers got the ball back and Mike Richards converted a short jumper 11 seconds later, making it 57-51.
A foul and a missed Mustang free throw later, the Lakers hurried and found Richards open on the wing for a 3-pointer with 58 seconds left, slicing the Marcellus lead to 57-54.
Then it was Wagner’s turn to miss a free throw, and the pattern repeated itself. With 42 seconds to play, Brandon Barron got open in the right corner – and his 3-pointer forced a 57-57 tie.
Completely unraveled, the Mustangs called a time-out – but Luke McNaney got whistled for a five-second call, unable to get the ball inbounds against the Laker pressure.
Now with a chance to go in front, Skaneateles called a time-out. The plan, said Norris, was to have Barron penetrate to the basket, drawing in the defense.
Sure enough, Barron drove – and when the Mustangs followed him, Barron dished it to Rice, whose lay-up provided the winning points.
Overall, Barron had 22 points and Rice 20 points to overcome Fiacchi’s total of 27 points. Nolan finished with 12 points.