Baldwinsville After all the turmoil it faced a season ago, including an early-season coaching change, the Liverpool boys basketball team finds itself in much more tranquil conditions going into 2012-13.
Matt Jacob has now received the full-time job after replacing Jerry Wilcox early last winter in what turned out to be a 5-13 campaign where the Warriors missed out on the Section III Class AA playoffs.
Don’t expect similar struggles this time around. Liverpool returns a strong core of players, including three veteran starters – senior guards Mike Russo and Hector Oyola, plus junior forward Caleb Taylor. They also play at a quicker tempo than in seasons past, both offensively and defensively.
All of this – the veteran poise and the fast pace - was on display in Thursday’s season opener, played against Corcoran as part of the Kiwanis Tip-Off Tournament in Baldwinsville. A strong second-half push helped the Warriors earn a 77-58 victory over the Cougars.
Corcoran had won its opener at Central Square two nights earlier, but Liverpool immediately engaged them in a back-and-forth first half where the lead changed hands eight times.
It was Oyola carrying a large part of the Warriors’ attack in the second quarter, scoring 12 of his team-high 21 points in that frame, which allowed Liverpool to stay within one, 34-33, at the break.
But it was a 16-2 run in the third period that put the Warriors ahead for good. Tyler Sullivan, starting in his varsity debut as a freshman, had five of his 11 points in that key spurt, while Ryan Caldwell earned all five of his points here, too.
Corcoran pulled within seven, 56-49, in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors put it away behind Taylor, who had 10 of his 16 points in the second half, and Russo, who finished with 11 points along with a deft series of passes that led to easy baskets for his teammates.
This leads Liverpool back to the Carrier Dome for Sunday’s Hall of Fame Classic meeting with Baldwinsville, whom it lost to, 68-65, in this same spot a year ago just before Jacob took over. Game time is at 5 p.m.