For a long while Friday night, it looked like the Fayetteville-Manlius boys basketball would follow up its big win over Liverpool two nights earlier with another triumph at Corcoran.
However, a late defensive switch from the Cougars, and a rash of F-M turnovers, led to a 56-52 defeat.
The Cougars, like F-M, were off to a 2-0 start, and had just ripped Henninger 66-46 to establish its own contender credentials, adding to the game's early meaning.
Charging out of the gate, the Hornets seized a 17-8 first quarter edge, then built the margin to 30-20 by halftime. It did so without Brian Zapisek doing all that much, as Corcoran's defense zeroed in on him to make sure he didn't get many open looks.
The second half featured all kinds of mood swings. Corcoran, taller and stronger than F-M at most positions, dropped its zone in favor of man-to-man, full-court pressure and forced the Hornets into all kinds of mistakes as a 20-7 outburst gave the Cougars a 40-37 edge.
Led by Zapisek, F-M pushed back. Of Zapisek's 16 points, 10 came in the fourth quarter, as his work keyed F-M pulling back out in front, and it held a 52-48 lead with less than two minutes left.
Corcoran's rally began with Algeron Torrence's basket, with Mike Lee fouling out. A steal by Marsean Brown led to another foul and a made free throw, and it was 52-51 -- but not after Brown pulled off another steal and converted the lay-up, putting Corcoran ahead with less than a minute left.
Again, F-M tried to get the ball up the court against Corcoran's pressure. Again, that heat forced a turnover, the Hornets' 23rd of the night, and Dewan Bohannon converted the basket. Brown's free throw with 27.3 seconds completed the Cougars' closing 8-0 spurt.
Other than Zapisek, Jack Giles (12 points) and Mike O'Neil (10 points) hit double digits, but no other F-M player had more than one field goal. Corcoran's balanced attack included Brown, with 13 points, and Bohanon and Torrence, with 10 points apiece.
F-M still has to go to Rome Free Academy Tuesday before finally getting its home opener Friday, a rematch with Liverpool -- who bounced back and beat Henninger in overtime after the Hornets had handled them.