Manlius Despite playing without the services of floor leader Jake Wittig on Saturday afternoon, the Fayetteville-Manlius boys basketball team survived a frantic ending against Utica Proctor, won by a score of 52-51 and moved one step closer to locking down the top seed for the Section III Class AA tournament.
Hornets senior Tomer Nesher's latest display of late-game heroics against the Raiders stands out above the other times he saved his team in the past.
With F-M down by two with under 30 seconds to play, Nesher tipped an errant inbounds lob pass at midcourt. He gained possession of the loose ball, took off for the basket, and made a strong finish at the rim to draw a foul on Proctor’s J'von Evans for the chance at a three-point play.
The foul shot swished through with 22 seconds on the clock to give the Hornets a one-point lead, the same score when Chris Simmons’ half court heave fell short of the rim as the final buzzer went off.
“I've had some clutch plays in the past,” Nesher said, “but nothing like that. I knew he was going to throw a lob pass. Now if I hit the guy it's going to be a foul, but if I got the ball he wouldn't call it. I was lucky to get the ball.”
Shortly after John Schurman tied the game on two free throws, Evans made a driving layup to stake the Raiders to a 51-49 lead with 40 seconds left. The fourth quarter saw five ties or lead changes.
“That’s a gutsy performance,” F-M coach Tom Blackford said. “It's a really good win because of the adversity of losing your starting point guard who's played every game for two years.”
In a seesaw match-up that came down to the final play, neither team led by more than seven points.