SYRACUSE 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.