Jan 26, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Ecstasy and agony and ecstasy once more, all in the span of a few seconds.
So went the climactic moments of the Westhill boys basketball team’s 57-56 victory over Fayetteville-Manlius Wednesday night, as the Warriors went through every conceivable emotion, before and after the clock hit zero.
Trailing 56-54 with 11.0 seconds left, Westhill watched F-M freshman John Schurman miss the front end of a one-and-one free-throw opportunity. Mark McAnaney grabbed the rebound, and head coach Kevin King called time-out.
On the ensuing possession, McAvoy, who already was enjoying a big night, flashed open in the corner – and from just behind the 3-point line, he took the shot and converted with five seconds left, giving him 23 points for the night.
Now up by one, Westhill watched as the Hornets, out of time-outs, rushed up the court. Schurman, from the right side next to F-M’s bench, finally got the ball, launched a 25-foot shot – and hit it. But it came a split-second after the buzzer sounded. By that thin margin, the Warriors had won.
Not that it should have been so difficult. Westhill, playing without one of its top stars, Justin Biles, once enjoyed a 33-21 lead late in the first half, McAvoy setting the tone as he poured in 14 points, including three 3-pointers. In all, the Warriors connected six times beyond the arc in the half and carried a 38-28 advantage to the break.
But then the shots stopped falling in the second half, Westhill baffled by F-M’s 2-3 zone and forced into a series of mistakes. The Hornets used a well-balanced attack to rally, as six players put up six or more points, but none more than Mike Palermo and Matt Reilley, with 10 points apiece.
Schurman’s basket with 5:39 left inched F-M in front, 49-48, for the first time since the opening minutes. From there, it went back and forth until Palermo’s 3-pointer and Connor Chen’s two free throws in the final minute pushed Westhill into a 56-52 deficit.
Not panicking, Westhill closed within 56-54 on McAvoy’s rebound basket with 13 seconds to play. Moments later, Schurman got fouled, setting up the wild ending as McAvoy made his team’s only 3-pointer of the second half count the most.
To help McAvoy, Nathan Nigolian put up 11 points, while Ryan Conroy earned eight points off the bench. Westhill visits Hannibal Friday in advance of next Wednesday’s big OHSL Liberty division showdown with first-place Skaneateles.
Without any rest, Westhill visited Hannibal Thursday night and appeared in control – but a late surge by those other Warriors nearly led to disaster before it hung on for a 49-48 victory.
Still missing Biles in the lineup, Westhill controlled the first half, leading 30-17 at the break. That margin grew to 43-28 before Hannibal woke up and, in the fourth quarter, continually ate away at that deficit and nearly caught up.
Nigolian had 15 points to help Westhill survive, with McAvoy and Conroy putting up eight points apiece and Vitty Freeman adding seven points. Alec Nelson and Zach Welling led Hannibal in its comeback, each earning 11 points.
As the boys Warriors were having its own excitement at home, the Westhill girls put together one of its best performances of the winter in a 77-47 rout of Hannibal.
Already up 42-23 by halftime, Westhill (6-3) rolled as, for the first time all season, someone other than Ashley Cianfriglia or Anna Ross led the offensive charge.
Left alone, Maggie Tripodi flourished, giving Westhill an inside presence as she poured in a career-best 23 points. Just as importantly, Sam Peebles (10 points) and Gwen Dougherty (six points) made solid contributions as Cianfriglia still put home 20 points and Ross shook off her recent struggles to post 18 points.