When the Liverpool boys basketball team won a tough 67-62 decision at Oswego on Jan. 25, the sense was that it could get through two more games before Hector Oyola returned from a suspension in time for this Tuesday night’s showdown with Henninger.
But the Warriors would not escape the second half of Oyola’s exile without a blemish. Corcoran, a vastly improved team late in the season, came to Liverpool last Tuesday night and, with a rousing fourth-quarter comeback, stunned the Warriors 55-50.
Once 4-7, Corcoran had just beaten Utica Proctor on the same night that Liverpool prevailed at Oswego, and it knew that the Warriors’ attack was more vulnerable without Oyola to cover.
Still, Liverpool, who beat Corcoran 77-58 back on Dec. 6 in a tournament in Baldwinsville, led 30-26 at halftime, and doubled that margin to eight, 46-38, by the time they reached the final period. Jeff Edwards, who finished with 21 points, was leading the charge as Mike Russo got 10 points and Caleb Taylor added nine points.
Yet none of that mattered in the final period. Liverpool hit a drought just as Corcoran caught fire during a 17-4 push to close the game, spreading its production around.
Malik Montgomery, who had 11 points, led the Cougars’ rally. DeVaughn Gainey and Torrence Commodore each had 10 points, with Sykere Keene and Johnny Bush getting seven points apiece.
Now the Warriors needed to win Saturday against Central Square to spare a 2-2 split of the games played without Oyola – which it did, working hard in a 59-49 victory over the Red Hawks.
Whatever was said by head coach Matt Jacob after a first quarter where Liverpool fell behind 16-13 must have clicked, because the Warriors promptly outscored Central Square 20-3 the rest of the half.
Not going away, the Red Hawks pulled back within 45-40 going to the fourth quarter, only to go cold again as the Warriors, despite its own struggles, managed to get clear.
Taylor had a double-double, earning 13 points and 11 rebounds. Ryan Caldwell stepped up for nine points, while Edwards got eight points.
Russo (seven points) and Justin Capoto (six points) were close behind, the Warriors’ depth overcoming the work of Central Square teammates Joe Piazza (17 points) and Brandon Anderson (14 points), who got far less help.
Oyola is back for Henninger, a kickoff to an exciting finishing stretch where the Warriors (10-5), who have already doubled its 2011-12 win total, visit Auburn Friday before an eagerly-anticipated regular-season finale against Fayetteville-Manlius next Tuesday.