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Hornets drop OT thriller to Henninger

On the first attempt to give Fayetteville-Manlius boys basketball head coach Tom Blackford his 400th career win, the Hornets came up just short.

F-M nearly sprung itself up the ladder of Class AA contenders Tuesday night against Henninger, leading most of the way before the Black Knights rallied late, got to overtime and beat the Hornets 75-68 in one of the season's best games.

To start with, F-M was holding its annual "Pink Out" to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

In the month leading up to the game, F-M students and parents had raised more than $3,000 for the Komen foundation's Central New York chapter selling pink T-shirts for the occasion.

For the game, the entire "Hornets' Nest" section was covered with students wearing those T-shirts, and Blackford had one on, too. All the players wore pink ribbons, and Henninger head coach Erik Saroney donned a pink dress shirt.

Amid the charged, playoff-like atmosphere, F-M roared out to a 15-4 lead, getting hot from the perimeter as it made six 3-pointers by the early portion of the second quarter.

Every time the Hornets tried to get away, though, Henninger kept answering. First, it was back-to-back baskets in the last minute of the half to close the margin to 35-32 at the break. Then, after F-M used an 8-0 run to make it 43-34 in the third quarter, the Black Knights closed the gap again.

So it continued, deep into the fourth quarter. Then, after several attempts to tie or get the lead, the Black Knights got even at 57-57 and used Jon Cooper's basket with 2:52 left to go in front, 59-57, its first lead of the night.

Trailing by four, 61-57, with less than a minute left, the Hornets staged its own comeback. First, Erik Mueller hit a 3-pointer to make it 61-60. Then, After Kihary Blue sank two free throws, Brian Zapisek missed a tying shot attempt -- but off the rebound, Mike O'Neil, from the corner, drained a 3-pointer with 21.1 seconds to play to tie it 63-63.

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