In the course of earning the title at the Chittenango Holiday Tournament and moving to 9-0 on the season, the Bishop Grimes boys basketball team endured its closest call of the season.
Due to its own struggles at the free-throw line, the outcome of Tuesday's first-round game against Tully was in doubt until the last shot as the Cobras (no. 9 in the latest state Class B rankings) edged the Black Knights 55-52.
Three times in the last 27 seconds, Grimes, up by three, had a chance to salt the game away with free throws. But Tavon Moore (twice) and Evan Pitonzo each missed the front end of one-and-one free throws, keeping Tully alive.
After the last of those Moore misses, with 4.2 seconds left, Tully, out of time-outs, scrambled down the court, and Tyler Redington took a half-court shot as the buzzer sounded. The ball hit the rim -- and bounced away, giving the Cobras the win. Redington had also missed a possible tying 3-pointer in that last sequence.
In the format of two 16-minute halves, Grimes blew two different leads in the first half, yet still got 13 points from Mike Stone as it fought to a 33-26 halftime advantage.
On two different occasions early in the second half, the Cobras' margin grew to nine, but with Stone turning ice-cold (he didn't score for more than 11 minutes), Tully fought back again, going on a 13-2 run as Mike Courtwright's lay-up gave the Black Knights a 44-42 lead.
Finally, Stone hit a 3-pointer, then followed with a three-point play and a free throw. That, along with Kucjok Ater's six points in the homestretch, pushed Grimes ahead 55-49 before Tully's last rally fell just short.
Stone finished with 21 points and had a superb night on the defensive side, too, earning 11 steals. Ater (12 points) and Mike Sugamosto (10 points) reached double figures, with Pitonzo adding seven points. Connor Carroll led Tully with 14 points, as Courtwright added 12 points.