Warriors drop playoff classic to F-M

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.

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