Right at the moment when it mattered most, the Liverpool boys basketball team found the form that made them so feared early this season.
As a result, the no. 9 seed Warriors eliminated no. 8 seed Oswego, 61-48, in Friday night's opening round of the Section III Class AA playoffs and earned a shot at top seed Fayetteville-Manlius in Tuesday night's quarterfinal round.
A 9-9 regular-season mark for Liverpool included a homestretch where it lost four of six games. That cost the Warriors enough seeding space that it had to go on the road for its playoff opener.
And now it faced an Oswego side that was appearing to step out of its own struggles with back-to-back wins over Rome Free Academy and Central Square to close out the regular season. The Bucs also had gained confidence from beating the Warriors 57-51 back on Jan. 10.
For a while, the playoff encounter followed the same pattern, Oswego battling its way to a 14-9 lead by the end of the first quarter. But as the pace quickened, Liverpool got more comfortable, even though it wasn't reflected in the 31-25 deficit it faced at halftime.
By the time they reached the fourth quarter, that deficit was gone, Liverpool inching into the lead, 41-40. And just the fact that it did go in front appeared to affect both teams, as the Warriors dominated the final eight minutes, outscoring the Bucs 20-8 to extend its season.
Tyler Sullivan and Caleb Taylor led that late charge, as Sullivan produced 16 points and Taylor added 15 points. Not far behind them, Will Cutler hit on three 3-pointers to account for most of his 12 points as Jaydakis Scott contributed eight points. Oswego's Ryan Lavner led his side with 18 points.
And now the Warriors could turn its attention to its trip to F-M, where it played quite well on Dec. 13 in a closely-fought 67-62 defeat before the Hornets won the rematch at Liverpool 80-56 on Jan. 28. The winner here will face Cicero-North Syracuse or West Genesee in the AA semifinals next Saturday at Onondaga Community College's SRC Arena.