Young and at times overmatched, the Fayetteville-Manlius boys basketball team spent the 2010-11 season taking all sorts of licks from bigger, more imposing competition on its way to a 9-11 mark.
This winter, though, head coach Tom Blackford’s Hornets are bent on dishing out the punishment, and are off to just the right start with a pair of non-league road victories.
F-M first paid a visit to Rome Free Academy last Wednesday night, and after an uneven start took over in the second quarter on its way to beating the Black Knights 77-65.
The Hornets trailed RFA 19-16 after an active first quarter. F-M then turned to its veteran tandem of John Schurman and Tomer Nesher to fuel a 25-12 dash through the rest of the half.
Though the Black Knights recovered a bit in the third period, the Hornets would reclaim its margin in the late going, through solid free-throw shooting.
All told, Schurman had 26 points, eight of them from free throws, plus six assists, three rebounds and two steals, while Nesher finished with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists. Defensively, newcomer T.J. Wheatley made an instant impact, recording 10 rebounds and two steals.
And the production was nicely spread around, too. Parker Harris finished with eight points, with Jake Wittig, Jimmy Novakowski and Zach Tucker each getting seven points and Louis Avellino adding six points.
Two nights later, F-M visited Chittenango as part of a girls/boys doubleheader, and would sweep the event, topping the Bears 71-35 in the boys game and 50-21 in the girls game.
A swarming defense by the boys Hornets held Chittenango to five points in the first quarter. From there, the margin kept growing until F-M had a 58-24 lead through three periods and the starters could rest.
Schurman again proved difficult to contain, pouring in 27 points to go with seven rebounds. Nesher had 10 points and three steals, with Wheatley contributing seven points and 10 rebounds. Josh Manzi had six points as 11 different F-M players got on the scoreboard.