As far as the young Fayetteville-Manlius boys basketball team has traveled in this exciting winter, there's still plenty of distance to cover before it can rise to the top of the Section III Class AA ranks.
That point got reinforced, in a painful manner, Thursday night when the Hornets took the difficult road trip to Utica Proctor and, from the start, were overwhelmed in a 60-34 loss to the Raiders.
Given all of Proctor's success in recent years and its home-court prowess, F-M faced a big enough challenge. The fact that the Raiders were burning to assert itself again after overtime defeats to Cicero-North Syracuse and Henninger only made things worse.
In a near-echo of the loss at Oswego on Jan. 12, the Hornets suffered through a brutal first quarter, unable to crack Proctor's relentless defensive pressure, full-court or otherwise. By the time those eight minutes were over, the Raiders held a 17-3 lead.
Settling down for a while, the Hornets played on even terms in the second period and trailed, 31-17, at halftime. As the second half wore on, though, Proctor again asserted itself on the defensive side, and F-M's deficit kept growing.
By far, the main source of the Hornets' misery was Raiders forward Chris Simmons, who proved unstoppable in the paint. Simmons finished with 32 points, just two less than the entire F-M roster, and added 11 rebounds.
Just five F-M players got on the board, none with more than John Schurman's 10 points. Tomer Nesher had seven points, with T.J. Wheatley and Jake Wittig adding six points apiece and Louis Avellino contributing five points.
Meanwhile, the F-M girls basketball team, no. 17 in the latest state Class AA rankings, won twice at home to improve its record to 12-2 in advance of Tuesday’s big game at West Genesee.