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Hornets drop last-second thriller to Westhill

John Schurman was picking up the habit of Fayetteville-Manlius boys basketball players, present and past.

It was Schurman's 3-pointer that, for the briefest of moments, gave the current edition of the boys Hornets a third straight victory over defending state Class B champion Westhill Wednesday night - until it was ruled that the shot came just after the final buzzer sounded.

This left F-M on the wrong end of a painful 57-56 defeat, and the fact that it did come down to this was no small irony, given that, the night before and just a few miles across town, Hornets alum Patrick Lee hit a half-court buzzer beater (that made the top 10 plays on ESPN's "Sportscenter") to help his Stonehill (Mass.) College team beat LeMoyne 84-82 in overtime.

The team Lee left behind was finally beginning to assert itself, coming off back-to-back wins over Oswego and Chittenango, and it showed lots of fortitude nearly making it three straight at Westhill.

Trailing by as many as 12 in the first half, F-M went to the break down 38-28, hurt more than anything by Westhill draining six 3-point shots, three of them by Kevin McAvoy, who was on his way to 23 points for the night.

But the Hornets tightened its 2-3 zone in the second half, and not only did Westhill's outside shots stop falling, it started turning the ball over with regularity, allowing F-M to inch back, basket by basket, as the game entered the homestretch.

When Schurman hit a hook shot with 5:39 left, F-M had a 50-49 lead, its first since the early moments. A tense exchange followed, and in the last minute it looked like the Hornets would pull it out.

First, Mike Palermo sank a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left, putting F-M back ahead 54-52. Then, after a Westhill turnover, Connor Chen converted a pair of free throws with 20.9 seconds to play and doubled the margin to 56-52.

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