BALDWINSVILLE – Perhaps in recent years, any notion of the Baldwinsville boys basketball team giving its powerful neighbors from Liverpool a scare was absurd to consider.
That’s not the case anymore, even though the Bees did take a 56-50 defeat to the state Class AAA no. 16-ranked Warriors last Tuesday night in a high-spirited battle at Baker High School.
Having seen its top three scorers (Andreo Ash, Bruce Wingate and Jah’Deuir Reese) graduate or transfer from last year’s state Class AA final four side, Liverpool had still built a 15-2 record through steady defense and an ability to pull out close games.
B’ville embraced the challenge, though, and traded blows with the Warriors throughout a closely fought first half. It led 14-8 late in the first period, and though Liverpool rallied to go in front, the Bees made its comeback and tied it, 30-30, going to the break, led by M.J. Young’s 10 points.
What turned it was seeing the Warriors’ Kaelem Haskins hit three 3-pointers in the span of a minute early in the third quarter, yet even here B’ville, down 41-32, would battle its way back.
When eighth-grader Matt Pope hit a 3-pointer and Tyler Nilsen converted on a layup with 4:36 left, the Bees were within two, 48-46, but it never scored another field goal until the game’s final seconds.
Liverpool’s defense, combined with timely scoring plays, put the game away, overcoming Young’s total of 17 points as Nilsen and Nick Hollingshead had 11 points apiece. Haskins finished with 15 points as Freddie Fowler paced the Warriors with 17 points.
What was supposed to be the Bees’ regular-season finale against West Genesee was moved back a week and will be played next Thursday night at 6:45 in Camillus, with the Section III playoff brackets released two days later.