SYRACUSE What was already turnaround season for the Liverpool boys basketball season could be made more special if it could knock off Henninger in Tuesday night’s Section III Class AA quarterfinal.
And the no. 7 seed Warriors put an all-out effort into that upset bid, only to fall just short at the end as the Black Knights prevailed by a 57-53 margin.
This was the second time Liverpool had traveled to Henninger this month, having gone there on Feb. 5 and lost 66-53.
The rematch, exactly two weeks later, featured the same fundamental challenge for the Warriors - namely, how it could function in the paint against a taller, stronger Black Knights front line.
Defense helped in the early going, Liverpool moving out in front as it held Henninger to six points. Gradually, the Black Knights turned it around, and by halftime the Warriors trailed by a point, 21-20.
In the larger picture, the third quarter proved pivotal. Getting what it wanted inside and spreading its production around, Henninger doubled up Liverpool, 20-10, and now had a 41-30 edge with one period left.
Despite this, the Warriors started hitting outside shots as the fourth quarter rolled on, and with a minute to play trailed by just one, needing one more defensive stop.
Instead, Henninger remained aggressive, forcing the Warriors to foul. Showing remarkable poise, the Black Knights made eight of the nine free throws it attempted in that final minute to pull through and advance to a semifinal against West Genesee.
In defeat, Jeff Edwards led both sides with 17 points, while Mike Russo, who had 29 points in the first-round win over Corcoran on Feb. 16, managed 11 points this time. Neither Caleb Taylor (eight points) nor Hector Oyola (seven points) could reach double figures as Dom Pirro added six points.
Henninger’s well-balanced attack saw Marquane Silvers (15 points), Frank Vigliotti (12 points) and Romero Collier (10 points) each reach double figures, with Chris Hicks (eight points) and Ahmad McKinney (six points) close behind.