FONDA — It was one of those games that Fonda-Fultonville probably shouldn’t have won, and one that Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons shouldn’t have lost.
For all but the first 2:48 and the final 2:29 of the game, the Golden Knights led, only to have the Braves rally for a 48-45 Western Athletic Conference boys’ basketball victory on Friday at Fonda-Fultonville High School.
“I’m so proud of my team for coming from behind the way they did,” Fonda-Fultonville coach Eric Wilson said. “We have a group of guys that just never quit. It was just a good team effort.”
Jackson Cusack led the second-half charge for the Braves, scoring all of his game-high 20 points in the final 16 minutes.
“Jackson is such a competitive kid,” Wilson said. “He’s such a leader out there for us. The last couple of games he hasn’t shot particularly well, but he covers so many mistakes defensively for us, we have to leave him out there. He scored all of his points in the second half tonight, and that’s what he’s capable of.”
Connor Weaver finished with nine points for Fonda-Fultonville, while Nick Hastings scored six of his eight points in the second half.
Dequawn Green scored 14 points to lead Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, while Esiasyn Starr had 13 points. Nathaniel Wylie added nine.
“[Fonda-Fultonville] is a good team,” Bishop Gibbons coach Steve Garzone said. “I’m proud of our guys and their effort. They gave it everything they had and I think we have big things coming for us.”
It appeared for most of Friday’s game that the Golden Knights were about to spring a surprise on the Braves.
Green scored eight of his points in the opening quarter as Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons jumped out to a 12-7 lead, outsourcing the Braves 12-4 over the final 5:37 of the quarter after giving up the first three points of the game.
The Golden Knights continued to smother the Fonda-Fultonville offense, allowing just five points in the second quarter to take a 22-12 halftime lead.
“We did everything we wanted to do defensively in the first half,” Garzone said.
After putting just 12 points on the board in the first half and going without a 3-pointer, the Braves showed their first offensive signs of life in the third quarter.
Fonda-Fultonville outscored Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons 14-9 in the frame, including the final five points of the quarter to make it 31-26 after three quarters.
A 3-pointer by Cusack closed out the third-quarter scoring for the Braves, while Cusack hit a pair of 3-pointers in the frame.
“When we called timeout with two minutes left in the third quarter, I told them that I wanted us to get within 10 points by the end of the quarter,” Wilson said. “We were able to get it to five. I would have settled for eight.”
The Braves continued to cut into the Notre Dmae-Bishop Gibbons’ lead early in the fourth quarter, getting a 3-pointer from Colin Kowalski to pull within 33-32 with 5:38 to play.
The Golden Knights answered with a basket by Green and a 3-pointer from Wylie to make it 38-33 with 4:13 left.
Fonda-Fultonville quickly erased that deficit with a basket by Hastings and a 3-pointer from Cusack to knot the game at 38.
“We knew what they were capable of,” Garzone said. “Once they started hitting shots, we were in trouble. We knew it was coming, but we just couldn’t stop it.”
After Cusack hit 1 of 2 free throws to give the Braves a 39-38 lead, their first since early in the first quarter, Cusack connected on a 3-pointer with 1:56 to play to make it 42-38.
The Golden Knights got a basket from Starr before Allen Booth hit a 3-pointer with 30 seconds to play, giving the Braves a 45-40 advantage.
Wylie scored with 18.3 to play to make it 45-42 before Cusack sank a pair of free throws to push the lead to 47-42 with 9.1 seconds left.
The Golden Knights remained within striking distance when Josh Pigliavento hit a 3-pointer to make it 47-45 with 4.9 seconds remaining.
Cusack was fouled and made 1 of 2 free throws to make it 48-45, and a desperation heave by Pigliavento fell short to end the game.
“This was a great win for us. That’s a good team. They’re athletic and they play hard,” Wilson said. “They’ve struggled with injuries and illness. Now they’re getting everyone back. I wouldn’t want to play them come sectional time because they’re going to be a tough out for anyone that plays them.”
Fonda-Fultonville (9-3 overall, 7-0 WAC) is scheduled to host Canajoharie on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons (3-7 overall, 2-3 WAC) is slated to host Fort Plain next Friday at 7 p.m.
Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons 12 10 9 14 – 45
Fonda-Fultonville 7 5 14 22 – 48
Bishop Gibbons scoring: D. Green 7-0-14, Pigliavento 2-0-5, E. Green 1-0-2, Starr 5-3-13, Wylie 3-2-9, Allgood 1-0-2. Fonda-Fultonville scoring: Booth 1-0-3, Cusack 5-5-20, Kowalski 1-0-3, Whipple 2-1-5, Weaver 4-1-9, Hastings 3-2-8. Team totals: Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons 19-5-45, Fonda-Fultonville 16-9-48.