SYRACUSE Buried under a barrage of 3-pointers by Fayetteville-Manlius earlier in the week, the West Genesee boys basketball team got close to making up for it, even though it was short-handed.
Nottingham nipped the visiting Wildcats, 55-53, in a Friday-night thriller not decided until the last moments. Henry Sullivan’s pull-up jump shot with 23 seconds left was the difference as WG guard Trevor Smith then drove the lane and took a shot for a tie with three seconds left, but it hung on the rim and fell off.
WG played without leading scorer and team captain Phil Allen, and three other key players. Allen suffered an ankle injury in practice Thursday.
“Our other kids stepped up and played hard, (and) I’m very proud of them for that,” head coach Fred Kent said. “We didn’t really have a full practice to adjust playing without (Allen). I thought the kids did a pretty good job on the fly.”
The fourth quarter featured seven lead changes and five ties. WG took its final advantage (53-51) on two Smith free throws with 1:30 left. Nottingham pulled even 20 seconds later through Tyquan Rolon’s basket.
The Wildcats failed to score on the resulting possession, setting up Sullivan to play hero. The Bulldogs worked the ball to Sullivan, who cut inside the three point line and hit his jumper from 15 feet out.
“We’ve been talking to (Sullivan) all year long that everything doesn’t have to go to the basket out of control,” Nottingham coach Greg Jones said. “(Instead), try a one or two dribble pull-up jump shot. He finally did it and it won us a game.”
That Nottingham was able to keep it close heading into the fourth was thanks to a late third-quarter spurt that all but erased a Wildcat eight-point lead (37-29). Rolon’s 3-pointer at the buzzer capped a 7-0 spurt.