As the clock counted down to zeroes, Brad Procita denied Christian Brothers Academy from getting another chance by grasping the final rebound of the game and secured the 51-43 victory for Fayetteville-Manlius.
And, just like how they won that play, the Hornets beat CBA with great defense, persistence on the boards, and a crowd of people watching them compete in the 14th annual Peppino’s Invitational, which is sponsored by John Vigliotti.
The win came a few days after the Hornets (1-1) suffered a season-opening loss to Utica Proctor, which is already an improvement from last season, when they lost four before they were able to secure their first victory.
Throughout the entire game, but especially the fourth quarter, the crowd was a motivator for the Hornets. It wasn’t just parents and coaches watching. It wasn’t just a bunch of their peers watching. There were people there who the players wouldn’t come across anywhere else.
That was a major part of the message that they received from head coach Jason Dudzinski before the game. He said, “everybody around here who knows high school basketball knows what the Peppino’s Invitational is.”
When he said that, it was like a switch went on. His guys played as hard as they could and refused to give in, even when the second half came around and fatigue began to set in.
Conversely, the Hornet offense improved as the game aged. Starting point guard Nick Papa struggled early, but eventually calmed down and found a way to run the offense and then Ethan Page came in and scored a few to give Papa a breather.
During those early stages in the game that saw Papa struggle, Khai Pugh was the one who decided to carry the load for the Hornets and would find a rhythm that supported him as he scored 17 points in the win.
F-M, which plays against Rome Free Academy on Saturday, got 11 more points from Procita and 10 from Tyler Schneider. CBA matches up with West Genesee on Saturday.