For the Fayetteville-Manlius girls basketball team, its third attempt at toppling Oswego nearly proved to be successful.
Beaten twice in December by the Buccaneers, the Hornets met them again at home last Thursday night and had a chance all the way to the final buzzer before taking a 59-57 defeat. F-M fell to 11-4 on the season, with three of the losses coming to Oswego.
Fresh off its huge 63-54 win over defending Class AA champion Corcoran on Jan. 23, F-M turned its attention to Oswego, a puzzle it had been unable to solve before.
They had met Dec. 5 in the opening round of the Jamesville-DeWitt Tip-Off Tournament, then again Dec. 30 in the finals of the Bucs' holiday tournament. Each time, Oswego built big first-quarter leads and never got caught.
The third meeting in the "Hornets' Nest" would prove far different, at least in the sense that F-M was in it from the opening tip.
With newfound confidence, the Hornets traded baskets with the Bucs throughout the first half, an exciting back-and-forth battle that ended with Oswego only ahead by one, 29-28, going into halftime.
Slowly, F-M's deficit grew to five, 44-39, before the fourth quarter, but it rallied in the final minutes and forged a 57-57 tie as regulation time wound down.
Each team's star senior would end up deciding the outcome. With nine seconds to play, Oswego's Cari Reed pumped in a jump shot, breaking the tie, but giving the Hornets a chance before the buzzer. Torie Lee got off the shot -- but it went off the rim.
Prior to that, Lee had produced a game-high 21 points as she and Katie Sager (who had 13 points) both hit on three 3-pointers. Morgan Axenfeld had 10 points, with Emily Trapani adding eight points. Reed had 14 points, but teammate Lauren Hunt stood out with 20 points as Brooke Reifinger (10 points) also broke into double figures.