Manlius In order for the Fayetteville-Manlius boys basketball team to have a better shot at ending that 58-year sectional championship drought, it had to do something about a much shorter dry spell against a key opponent.
That would be Henninger, who beat the Hornets in last year's Section III Class AA semifinal. Following years of Black Knights domination in this series, F-M finally came out on top Friday night, holding on for a 69-61 victory in front of a loud, overflow home crowd.
"This is a big win for us," said F-M head coach Tom Blackford. "We have been trying to get over this hump (beating Henninger), and this will help our confidence."
John Schurman led the Hornets, the junior forward posting 23 points, including a crucial 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter that broke a long Hornets field-goal drought and stymied Henninger's rally from an 11-point deficit earlier in the half.
"They gave us a fight, but we were resilient," said Schurman.
Just as important was how the Hornets' 1-3-1 defense responded in the game's latter stages to a big first half from Black Knights forward Ahmad McKinney.
Though F-M never trailed after giving up the game's first field goal, McKinney, all by himself, made sure that the Hornets didn't get comfortable. He scored Henninger's first 13 points and had 20 points by halftime, keeping the Black Knights within four, 34-30, as they went to the break.
Blackford said that McKinney was getting too many open looks on the baseline, so in the second half the Hornets closed up its interior defense, rotating several forwards to cover McKinney and daring Henninger to beat them with outside shots.
It worked, as McKinney was kept without a field goal for the game's last 13-plus minutes, so though he finished with 25 points to lead both sides, McKinney would not be a factor down the stretch.