Liverpool Twelve months ago, the Liverpool boys’ basketball team was left out of the Section III Class AA tournament after amassing a 5-13 record.
Fast forward a year, and the no. 7 seed Warriors rolled its way past no. 10 seed Corcoran 75-49 on Saturday to reach the tournament’s second round.
On the heels of a three-game losing streak to finish out the regular season, senior guard Mike Russo picked the perfect day to register a career-high 29 points in the one-sided victory.
“It's a tribute to the kids and their work,” Liverpool coach Matt Jacob said of the season-long turnaround. “We had a great summer, they were working hard. They believed and they continued to believe through that three game slide."
“Last year we didn't have an organized play,” Russo said. “Teammates were all over the place, trying to take the control. They didn't really play their role so to speak. This year we really have a lot of chemistry. I've known these kids forever.”
The Warriors earned themselves a Class AA quarterfinal date with no. 2 seed Henninger, who sat out the first round with a bye. The Black Knights beat Liverpool 66-53 earlier this month.
“We know what they have, we know their intensity,” Jacob said. “I know they're very well coached.”
Liverpool faces a tall challenge in a Henninger starting lineup that features three players 6-foot-4 or taller. The Warriors play the 5’11" Caleb Taylor in the middle.
“Last time (we played Henninger), we had our sixth man [Tyler Sullivan] hurt,” Russo said. “It was Hector [Oyola]'s first game coming back off suspension.
"I think we're going to come in with more intensity. We're undersized, but) we have great guards, some of the best in our league. We're going to be tough to beat.”
The game’s result was never in doubt. Though the visiting Cougars cut the deficit to 37-32 on a DeVaughn Gainey jumper at the halfway point of the third quarter, Russo’s three-pointer off an inbounds pass sparked a 20-6 run to finish the period.