Before all this, the Warriors did not figure to give undefeated Utica Proctor too much worry last Tuesday night, especially after a brutal third quarter left the hosts far behind.
Yet with two minutes to play, the Warriors were within a basket, ready to complete an improbable comeback, before the Raiders settled down and made a late push to escape with a 71-63 decision.
Trailing by double digits, Liverpool made a push late in the second quarter and, by the break, was within range at 29-26. But when the Raiders cranked up its defensive pressure and forced a long series of Liverpool mistakes in the third quarter, it led to a 17-0 Proctor spurt.
By the time the fourth quarter started, the Warriors were down 55-34. At this point, Raiders head coach Norm Stamboly put in reserves, and it backfired. Grainger connected on consecutive 3-pointers, and aided by a Proctor technical fall, the Warriors’ charge continued.
By the time Grainger converted again to cap a 28-7 outburst, Liverpool had cut the margin to 64-62. Now, though, the Raiders’ starters were back, and they forced the Warriors into fouls that translated into five successful free throws, thwarting the rally.
Bliss, with 21 points, and Odum, with 19 points, accounted for a good portion of the Warriors’ attack, while Grainger added 10 points. Proctor’s Maurice Mills had 20 points and Naronn Harvey earned 17 points.
Even in defeat, the confidence gained by the Warriors carried over to the Juggler Classic. Now Liverpool would go for three in a row Tuesday, against Auburn, before a Thursday trip to Baldwinsville – in all, four games in seven days.