Feb 24, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
For most basketball teams, a 10-0 deficit to start an elimination game, in any round, would be a major concern.
Not with the Henninger Black Knights, though, who shook off that poor start and fought to a 54-49 victory over Fayetteville-Manlius in Thursday night’s Section III Class AA semifinal at Le Moyne College.
The no. 2 seed Black Knights’ poise and experience in big games was clearly evident on this night, as it zoomed into the lead by the second quarter and, for the rest of the contest, fended off the no. 3 seed Hornets’ valiant efforts to catch up.
At no time, said head coach Erik Saroney, did he even consider using a time-out to settle his team down as F-M scored those quick 10 points and blanked Henninger in the first four-plus minutes.
“I trust those guys,” he said. “It wasn’t time to panic. And we fought back from that pretty well.”
Kavon Delee spurred the comeback with 10 first-half points, but more important was the way the Black Knights’ defense completely shut down F-M, only allowing two field goals the rest of the first half after that opening 10-0 run.
As in their Jan. 6 encounter, the Black Knights’ fleet of guards, including Tevin Chisholm, Quashawn Gainey, Keith Tyson and Frank Vigliotti, got in the Hornets’ faces, never allowing them any open looks from the outside. John Schurman, who hit five 3-pointers in F-M’s quarterfinal win over Nottingham on Feb. 17, did not make one on this night.
Henninger led by as much as eight late in the first half, and went to the break nursing a 26-20 edge. To its credit, though, the young Hornets (it starts a junior, a sophomore and two freshmen) never went away and hung right with the Black Knights throughout the second half.
It helped F-M, no doubt, that both Delee and fellow forward Marquies Young got into foul trouble, forcing them to miss long portions of game time. Late in the third period, F-M got within one 32-31, and were also within a field goal twice in the early part of the fourth quarter.
Every time, though, Henninger had an answer, whether it was Chris Hicks and Ahmad McKinney combining for 17 points off the bench, or Delee, who finished with 16 points, hitting a pair of big 3-pointers from the wing in the closing stretch.
Still, nothing was settled for good until Young, who didn’t foul out, and Chisholm, who had 11 points, hit on four consecutive free throws in the last 20 seconds. Tomer Nesher, in defeat, led F-M with 17 points, while Schurman managed 12 points, barely half his season average.
So just like 2011, the sectional title will get decided between Henninger and Utica Proctor, only this time they will play the Class AA championship game in the Carrier Dome on March 4 at 4:30.
Proctor, the top seed, needed overtime to get past Cicero-North Syracuse 71-68 in the other semifinal, and the Raiders, who split two regular-season meetings with Henninger, are looking to avenge last year’s title game defeat, also in OT, to the Black Knights.
Saroney said he has a real concern that the 10-day break between the semifinals and finals will affect his team’s rhythm, adding that all teams that get this far have to get creative in order to stay sharp, without practicing too hard ahead of the big occasion.
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