SYRACUSE Now it's a routine for the Henninger boys basketball team - to not just contend for league and sectional championship honors each winter, but in late December go to Le Moyne College and pick up the big trophy as the champions of the Mayor's Roundball Classic.
It's now six consecutive years that the Black Knights has won bragging rights among Syracuse's larger city high schools, the title earned again Thursday night as Henninger pulled away from Corcoran in a 65-41 victory.
In truth, the tournament's biggest suspense came in Wednesday night's opening round. Here, the Black Knights nearly surrendered the crown in the waning seconds against Nottingham, but held on to beat the Bulldogs 49-48.
All looked routine when Henninger jumped ahead of Nottingham 20-12 in the first quarter. But the Bulldogs slowed the game's tempo down and never allowed the Black Knights' point guard, Tevin Chisholm, establish any kind of flow.
As a result, Nottingham stayed within sight through the middle stages and, in the fourth quarter, started hitting outside shots, paring away at the margin until it was within a point and had the ball in the waning seconds. Without a time-out, though, the Bulldogs could only take a long-range 3-pointer that fell off target as the buzzer sounded.
With Chisholm shut down, Kavon Delee stepped up, leading both sides with 20 points, while Marquies Young got 12 points and Tommie Spinner added 10 points. For Nottingham, Tyquon Rolon led with 16 points.
By contrast, Corcoran had flattened Fowler, 78-50, in the other opening-round game, steadily pulling away from the Falcons as it built a 66-30 lead through three periods. Sophomore Henry Sullivan lit up Fowler for 27 points, while Torrence Commodore added 13 points.
Henninger knew that, against the Cougars, it could not afford an effort similar to the Nottingham scare. And just to make sure his players knew of the game's importance, Black Knights head coach Erik Saroney brought in one of his former stars, Ben Cronin, for a pre-game prep talk.