What the Marcellus boys basketball team expected when it went up against Bishop Grimes in last Friday's Section III Class B-1 semifinal was a fierce, daunting contest against a defending champion that had won 10 games in a row.
What it may not have expected, though, was the return of a vital piece to its formula -- and sparked by being whole again, the Mustangs battled its way to a 63-60 overtime victory over the Cobras.
Back on Jan. 6, junior forward Will Fiacchi suffered a stress fracture in his lower leg. The consensus was that, even with full healing, Fiacchi would not return this winter because, among other things, he didn't want to risk his future as a possible major-college football quarterback.
Just seven weeks after the injury, though, Fiacchi suited up again for Bishop Grimes, and his mere presence on the court seemed to pick up the spirits of Mustang players and fans before the game even tipped off.
Coming off the bench, Fiacchi played with his usual drive and intensity, getting nine points and seven rebounds. More importantly, Grimes had to account for Fiacchi, which took attention off some other Mustang players.
That included Dan Heil, who would come up big late in the first half with a series of 3-pointers that turned a deficit into a 33-28 halftime edge. In all, Heil would hit six 3-pointers on the night and finish with 22 points.
All through the second half, Marcellus clung to its slim lead, unable to get away as Grimes kept pushing back. As time ticked away in regulation, the Mustangs still led 56-53, and had to make one more defensive stop to seal victory.
But Grimes' Mike Stone, contained fairly well most of the night, broke loose and drained a 3-pointer just before time ran out, tying it at 56-56 and forcing four minutes of overtime.