Dec 30, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
So the Fayetteville-Manlius boys basketball team trailed deep into the fourth quarter, then rose up and rallied to win. That’s nothing new.
In fact, the Hornets’ 69-59 victory over previously unbeaten Cicero-North Syracuse in Wednesday night’s CNS Holiday Tournament championship game is just the latest in a series of comebacks that have marked the opening month of the season.
F-M’s 6-1 start has included three significant late-game reversals. First, it rallied past Fairport 55-47 in the Peppino’s Invitational at Henninger Dec. 5, blanking the Red Raiders in the game’s final four minutes.
Less than two weeks later, in its home opener against Liverpool, the Hornets trailed by 10 in the fourth quarter, yet came back to win 67-61 behind a barrage of late 3-pointers from Jack Giles and Mike O’Neil.
Against CNS, the Hornets managed to combine elements of both the Fairport and Liverpool rallies, again relying on the trio of Giles, O’Neil and Brian Zapisek, plus some first-rate defense.
It all got started with a tight first half where CNS hit on seven of 11 3-pointers, countering the 10 points Zapisek put up as the Northstars went to the break clinging to a 32-30 lead.
CNS would lead through much of the second half, too. Even though the outside shooting started to dry up, the Northstars saw its top two scorers, forwards Andy Falvey and Zach Coleman, combine for 18 points through tough inside play and free throws.
But when Coleman hit on two free throws with 5:14 to play, capping an 11-3 spurt that built the Northstars’ lead to 59-49, he could not have imagined that he had scored the last CNS points of the night.
What followed was a complete reversal, a 20-0 burst to close the game where F-M did everything well – and CNS did everything wrong.
It started with a Lewis Kelley lay-up and an O’Neill 3-pointer that cut the Hornets’ deficit in half. Then Giles hit on back-to-back baskets to make it 59-58 and, with 2:22 left, O’Neil returned to sink another 3-pointer, and F-M had gone from a double-digit deficit to the lead in less than three minutes’ time
And it didn’t stop there. Giles struck again with a steal and lay-up and, when O’Neil got fouled with 1:37 left, Falvey’s frustration led to a technical foul. O’Neill and Zapisek made the ensuing free throws, and the Northstars were all but put away.
Zapisek, who finished with 20 points, got tournament MVP honors, while O’Neill finished wtih 19 points and Giles earned 13 points, most of them in that last burst.
It was acutally fitting that the tournament ended on a lopsided run by the Hornets – for that’s exactly how it started.
F-M took advantage of a severe drought by Ithaca in Tuesday’s opening round, which led to a 76-41 victory over the Little Red.
During a one-sided first quarter, Ithaca couldn’t make a field goal, and F-M kept scoring until it had a 30-1 advantage. And the lead grew to 56-18 before the Hornets eased up and rested its starters for much of the second half.
In the limited time they were on the court, Zapisek had 13 points, while Giles (12 points) and O’Neil (11 points) also hit double figures. Andrew Murphy had nine points, with Kelley adding eight points.
The fun doesn’t stop for F-M in 2010, as it visits Henninger on Tuesday – and then gets a rematch with CNS in the “Hornets Nest” next Friday night.