SOUTHSIDE, N.Y. - In a back and forth battle it was Athens that came out on top 56-55 as Notre Dame's Darius Garvin's alley oop lay-up attempt with 7.2 seconds to go rolled out.

"A really spectacular game," Notre Dame coach Bill Hopkins said. "Those who missed it missed a gem."

Garvin had 27 points, shooting 11-of-22 from the field, to go with five boards, four assists, three steals and two blocks to lead the Crusaders but Athens countered with three players in double figures.

Luke Wright led the way with 16 points while Garrett Clark added 15 and Brandon Fauver had 10. Dan Moyer came off the bench to add eight points, Curt Moore scored four with Robert Fauver netting three.

Derek Marshall and Devonte Gaskins had seven points each for the Crusaders with Marshall adding five boards. Hunter Thomas had six points, Brian Hale four while Jonas McCaig and Eric Brennan rounded out the scoring with two points each.

Wyatt Martin chipped in with three boards, two steals and three blocks.

The Crusaders jumped out early with a 15-6 lead after the opening quarter. The Wildcats rallied back, taking a 23-21 lead at the half.

With a 19-10 third quarter run Athens led 42-31 going into the final quarter and led by as much as 14 in the final frame.

"Usually we fare pretty well in the third period," Hopkins said. "But Athens got after us."

That's when the Crusaders rallied back to go up 55-53. Athens would tie it up at 55-all and had a chance to go ahead but Notre Dame was able to get the defensive stop. Wildcat Luke Wright got the offensive rebound and was fouled.

He made 1-of-2 free throws to put Athens up 56-55 with just over seven seconds left.

That's when the Crusaders did a sideline out of bounds play just for Garvin.

"The ball hung on the rim and fell back out," Hopkins said.

Out of timeouts Notre Dame fouled but still had a chance as Athens missed the front end of a 1-and-1. With 5.2 seconds left the Crusaders were able to get a floater off in the lane but it missed and suffered their first loss.

Despite the loss Hopkins was pleased with his team's performance and a good game in general.

"As a fan of basketball and a fan of the twin tiers if you missed it you missed a good one," Hopkins said. "These two teams got after each other and it was fun to watch them play defense and score under adverse conditions. It was good experience to see these two teams compete."

Hopkins was especially pleased with how his team rallied late.

"I was really proud of our players," he said. "How they responded and how they played down the stretch. It was fun to watch them make defensive stops and make clutch shots."

Athens won the JV game.

The Crusaders have another tough game coming up as they travel to Watkins Glen next Friday.

Notre Dame leads Watkins in the division by one game. Right now the Crusaders are also the top seed in the Section IV, Class C tournament with Watkins Glen second.

Sullivan County 44, Muncy 41

The Griffins kept their division title hopes alive by edging out Muncy in Heartland Conference action Saturday.

"It wasn't the prettiest game in the world, especially on the offensive end for both teams," Sullivan coach Glen Vaughan said. "We defended them pretty well and they defended us us pretty well."

Sullivan led 13-9 after one but Muncy cut it to 23-22 at the half. The Indians took a lead after the third quarter, 33-30 but a 14-8 final quarter in favor of Sullivan gave them the win.

Kelby Mullen led the Griffins with 17 points, five boards and three assists while Conner Wylie added 13 points, six boards and four assists.

Derek Wilkins had four points, 11 boards and three helpers while Zach Meyer and Sean Flannery netted three points each. Adam Szklanka and Lucas Hatton rounded out the scoring with two points a piece.

Nick Ring led Muncy with 17.

Sullivan won the JV game 52-34 as Flannery was the leading scorer.

"It was important for us to have a game like that down the stretch," Vaughan added. "In the district playoffs, state playoffs you need to win close games. I wasn't thrilled with their performance but I was proud of the kids for gutting this one out."

Sullivan, 16-1 overall and 8-1 in the Heartland Conference Division III, will host Millville next Wednesday.