The 31-23 halftime lead wasn’t enough to carry Fayetteville-Manlius to a victory over Utica Proctor in the thirteenth annual Peppino’s Invitational, a high school boys basketball tip-off showcase sponsored by John Vigliotti.
F-M’s 61-56 loss came on a night that featured the debut of their head coach, Jason Dudzinski. But their efforts told spectators that it was all business.
Dudzinski praised the efforts and told his team that he was “proud” of their enthusiasm throughout the game. He also brought up the lack of execution and the “missed opportunities around the basket” before adding that he “needs more from seniors.”
And the efforts that the first-year head coach was talking about wouldn’t go away, even when the scoreboard’s odds were against them.
The Hornets were down 51-45 with 3:25 left when their main focus became to stop the clock and make the game come down to the free throw line.
Though the Hornets were 6-7 on free throws in the closing minutes, their one miss came on the front end of a 1-and-1, which, at the time, allowed Proctor to keep their 7-point lead.
Jawaan Crouch of F-M refused to allow the clock to discourage him from doing what he could in the final seconds of the game. His layup with 33.7 seconds left cut the Proctor lead to 6.
On the ensuing possession, the Hornets fouled to stop the clock and Utica came up empty at the line.
After Timmy Zapisek missed the shot that would have cut F-M’s deficit in half, Proctor was sent to the line and connected both times, making it a 8-point game with just over 20 seconds left.
Zapisek finished the game with 15 points and 3 rebounds. The senior also hit two threes earlier in the game.
And then the number 12 found its way onto the scoresheet for both Ryan Salzberg and Henry Josephson. Josephson earned 12 rebounds and Salzberg recorded 12 points to go with his 5 assists.
The boys from Utica would make two more free throws as Crouch hit a three and earned the final layup of the game.