Not content with the way it was handling local Class AA foes, the Fayetteville-Manlius boys basketball team ventured south and hoped to do the same to a pair of Section IV opponents during the Stop DWI Tournament in Binghamton – only to get a rude awakening in the waning hours of 2013.
It was Maine-Endwell delivering that painful but necessary message, the Spartans using its brute physical strength and toughness to beat the state no. 16-ranked Hornets 57-48 and end F-M’s season-opening six-game win streak.
None of this was anticipated when the tournament got underway. Two nights earlier, the opening-round game was a particular cruise for the Hornets, who toyed with Johnson City and roared to an easy 84-34 victory over the Wildcats.
An eight-day layoff following that 82-54 rout over Corcoran on Dec. 20 did nothing to cool off F-M. Rather, it came back refreshed and red-hot, roaring out to a 28-8 lead on Johnson City by the end of the first quarter, and expanding the margin to 43-20 by halftime.
From there, the Hornets kept pushing, led again by John Schurman, who only hit a pair of 3-pointers, but still managed 29 points, plus 11 rebounds.
Louis Avellino had 14 points, while Jake Wittig dished out 11 assists. F-M rested its starters early and, as a result, had 13 different players record at least one field goal by night’s end.
This led to the Hornets’ final against Maine-Endwell. Though not in the state rankings and off to a sluggish 3-2 start, the Spartans, who are the defending Section IV Class A champions, possessed plenty of big, tough athletes that had helped produce three consecutive state football championships from 2011 to ’13.
And it soon became apparent that M-E was going to use that strength to get what it wanted inside, grabbing rebounds every time one of F-M’s outside shots didn’t fall and playing on even terms throughout a tight first half.