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.