A pair of willing challengers wanted to take the measure of the Fayetteville-Manlius boys basketball team in its first full week of league action. Neither would prove successful.
That included Liverpool, who came to the “Hornets Nest” last Friday night confident from a 3-0 start – but left with its first blemish of the season, F-M having to work to the final buzzer to earn a 67-62 victory.
This was a big contest, made so not just by F-M’s quality, but the way Liverpool had started, winning a pair of games in Niagara Falls on Dec. 6-7 before going to Cicero-North Syracuse and, with five players scoring in double figures, knocking off the Northstars 77-63.
Fire alarms, set off by burning popcorn at the concession stand just outside the F-M gym, caused a brief delay to the start of F-M’s home opener, but it didn’t stop either team from bringing an all-out effort once the game tipped off.
Throughout the first half, anything the Hornets did, the Warriors would match. That led to a series of mini-runs, but nothing that was sustained, so it was only fitting that F-M and Liverpool went to the break tied, 33-33.
With Liverpool’s defense bent on stopping John Schurman, other F-M players got open looks, including Louis Avellino and Mike Hoalcraft, who would combine for eight 3-pointers as the Hornets inched out in front in the third quarter.
Then Avellino hit consecutive 3s early in the final period to give F-M a double-digit margin, 55-45, but again Liverpool fought back, the comeback led by Brandon Derouchie, who hit four 3-pointers on the night and had 18 points overall.
Tyler Sullivan’s own 3-pointer with 1:30 left cut the Hornets’ lead to 62-58, but from there, F-M stayed cool, making six of eight free throws in the homestretch to hang on.