Feb 23, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
When a lot is on the line in basketball, as it is during the Section III Class AA playoffs, split-second moments can linger on for a long time afterwards.
And that is what the Liverpool Warriors would face in the aftermath of its 62-61 defeat to Fayetteville-Manlius during last Friday night’s AA quarterfinals.
Liverpool nearly erased a five-point deficit in the last seven seconds of regulation, but had a chance at doing more.
Not once all night did the Warriors lead, but it had rallied from a 57-49 deficit in the fourth quarter with Jesse Gates hitting on back-to-back 3-pointers, the latter of them with 1:53 to play that tied it 57-57.
F-M’s Mike O’Neil answered with a 3-pointer, making it 60-57, and Gates twice saw 3-point attempts to tie it go off — one of them blocked, the other of them hitting the rim.
So when O’Neil made two free throws with 11.1 seconds left, putting Liverpool behind 62-57, it looked to be over — but it wasn’t.
Connor Rogers got fouled driving to the net with 6.7 seconds to play. After Rogers made the free throws to cut it to 62-59, Liverpool pressured F-M on the inbounds pass — and Richard Green made the steal, with time enough and space to step outside and try a 3-pointer.
Except that Green drove in for the lay-up, not realizing that Liverpool was out of time-outs and couldn’t stop the clock. Thus, F-M, still up by a point, allowed the time to run to zero, and it was over.
So provided a strange ending to a game that had all kinds of momentum shifts. Liverpool surrendered two huge runs in the first quarter and fell behind 27-14, only to close within three, 33-30, by halftime despite Gates not making a single field goal.
Gates soon changed that equation, getting 20 of his 21 points in the second half. Rogers came off the bench for 12 points, while Cam Jones threw in 11 points.
Three different times in the second half, Liverpool would tie it, but never got that crucial stop or go-ahead basket that would provide such a big psychological boost.
F-M stayed in front behind Brian Zapisek’s 20 points and 12 rebounds, while point guard Jack Giles put up 18 points, including four 3-pointers. O’Neil added 11 points.
Liverpool’s loss to F-M meant that it ended with a 14-8 record. It will see stars like Chase, Harrington and Anthony Salomone depart, but having Gates, Jones, Rogers and Green back for 2009-10 should make the Warriors a contender again.