Having passed a milestone (Mike Olley's 100th career win) and announced its contender status by knocking off previously unbeaten Fayetteville-Manlius on Jan. 7, the Liverpool girls basketball team now fought to keep that status intact through its busiest stretch of the season. It played four time in six days - and nearly won them all.
It was that defeat that would stick out, though, as in the first round of the Juggler Classic at SUNY-Utica Tech, the Warriors saw a big fourth-quarter lead disappear in a wild 67-64 loss to Utica Proctor.
From the time the game started, all looked to be fine for the Warriors as it gained a 17-9 first-quarter lead. The two sides then traded baskets until another surge in the third period pushed the Liverpool advantage to 49-35.
Ally Zywicki could not miss much, hitting five 3-pointers and 11 overall field goals on her way to a new career mark of 31 points. Nicole Ciricillo (12 points) and Lyteshia Price (10 points) were helping out, too, and the Warriors, as a whole, were keeping Proctor star Brianna Kiesel from breaking out the Pittsburgh-bound senior had 18 points through three periods.
Then came the fourth quarter, and Kiesel took over. Almost by herself, she brought the Raiders back, hitting on every conceivable shot and eventually matching Zywicki's total of five 3-pointers as Proctor closed on a 32-15 run to pull it out. All told, Kiesel had 40 points, tying the school record for points in a single game.
Stunned by this result, Liverpool nearly lost again in Sunday's consolation game against West Genesee, but recovered enough to beat the Wildcats 72-70 in overtime.
Despite its 3-7 mark, WG used a 15-5 push through the second quarter to take a 26-18 lead, and maintained that edge deep into the final period.