Even though the Cicero-North Syracuse boys basketball team proved unable to knock off archrival Liverpool in last Tuesday night's double-overtime classic, the confidence gained from that encounter would linger.
For when the Northstars came home Friday night to face 11-4 Fayetteville-Manlius, it would finish the job, hanging on to beat the Hornets 54-52.
This was the second meeting between the two sides, F-M having won back in the Dec. 30 final of the CNS Holiday Tournament. Since then, the Hornets had built an 11-4 record, a far cry from the Northstars' major struggles.
Yet in the second quarter of this contest, CNS, trailing 12-8, turned it around by doubling the Hornets' input and seizing a 24-20 lead, something it would try to hold on to for the rest of the night.
A key element all night was the game's tempo. CNS controlled it, never letting F-M get into the fast, running style it likes so much. What's more, it limited the Hornets' leading player, Brian Zapisek, to just seven points all night.
Meanwhile, CNS got 21 points from Andy Falvey, none more important than the pair of free throws in the final minute that turned out to be the game-winning points. The Northstars saw that 54-50 lead cut in half, but F-M could not catch up.
Aside from Falvey, John Howell and Gary Shavallier offered the main help, each getting 10 points as Falvey hit on three 3-pointers. Though they didn't make up for Zapisek's struggles, F-M had Mike O'Neil earn 19 points and Erik Mueller add 13 points.