Any home opener is, inherently, a special sports occasion. Somehow, the Fayetteville-Manlius boys basketball team made it even more special.
The Hornets trailed Liverpool by six going to the fourth quarter Friday night, but it rallied to beat the Warriors 67-61, the second time in 10 days that F-M had toppled Liverpool.
As if that wasn't enough, the citizens of the "Hornets' Nest" got an added treat when junior Brian Zapisek became the fifth player in the boys program's history to surpass 1,000 career points.
Jason Osier, Chris Henry, Dave Juda and Matt Roe are the other players on this short list. Osier had 1,367 points and sits on top - but if Zapisek stays healthy, he stands a good chance of breaking that mark.
For many reasons besides a home venue, this game proved an exciting contrast to the 52-43 non-league game F-M won on Dec. 9 in Liverpool.
Back then, the defenses took control for large portions of the game. That wasn't the case here, as the Hornets used long-range shots to hurt Liverpool both early and late.
The Hornets exploded out of the gate, firing up the standing-room-only crowd by roaring out to a 23-12 first-quarter lead as Zapisek, Jack Giles, Mike O'Neil (back after missing F-M's win over Rome Free Academy two nights earlier) and Mike Lee all hit key baskets.
That margin held until the second half. Trailing 36-25 at the break, Liverpool got red-hot in the third period, outscoring F-M 23-6 as Jesse Gates, who finished with 24 points, did much of his damage in this frame.
Now it was the Hornets trailing, 48-42, and with Liverpool trying to smother Zapisek (who would finish with 23 points and 10 rebounds), his teammates would respond.
Between them, Giles and O'Neil drained six 3-pointers in that final period, and the Hornets went out in front for good. Overall, Giles had 18 points, a season high, and O'Neil added 14 points as Lee (10 points) also broke into double figures.