STAMFORD -- After witnessing a narrow first half lead quickly grow into a double-digit second half deficit, the King boys basketball team had every opportunity to mail in its fourth straight defeat with all the momentum heading in the wrong direction.

Instead, the Vikings battled back with tenacity and narrowly missed out on an upset victory.

Drew Sawyer's 25 points were not enough as King was held to three second-half field goals in a 56-48 defeat to the Masters School (NY) on Wednesday evening in a FAA matchup.

"We did some things better," King coach Greg Dobbs said. "I thought we played excellent defense on (Masters) and they have two very difficult players to stop. The difference in the second half was that we turned the ball over too much and that got them in transition."

The Vikings (9-8, 2-6 FAA) trailed the visitors 48-36 with seven minutes to play but slowly chipped away at the margin, courtesy of trips to the foul line from Sawyer, who went 9-of-14 from the stripe in the second half. His final free throw with 1:27 left cut the oppositions' lead to 52-48, but subsequent trips up the floor came up empty for the Vikings despite Masters missing three straight one-and-one opportunities. Panthers Freshman Josh Bunch sank four free throws in the final 30 seconds to ice the game.

"We're not getting Drew enough help," Dobbs said. "We're relying too much on him. Drew's fun to watch and a great player but one-man teams do not win basketball games."

After an encouraging first half that saw five different players register baskets, King was held without a bucket for the first 9:04 of the second period. Masters (9-5, 6-4) was led by sophomore Mike Jurzynski, who dominated inside with 24 points and 14 rebounds.

"We were getting beat by (King's) fastbreak in the first half," Masters coach Matt Kammrath said. We really started to focus less on the offensive rebounding and more on getting back in transition. That gave us more layers defensively to stop their fast break and once we got in the half court we were more relaxed and played our style of defense."

The Panthers went on an 18-3 run to open the second half, digging in defensively and forcing turnovers. The spurt occurred with King center Guilbert Francois (12 points, 16 rebounds) sitting on the bench in foul trouble.

"There is definitely a coincidence there," Dobbs said. "Gilbert is such a presence on the court, not only with his defense and shot blocking but his rebounding as well. Gilbert is tough to take out and it can make the difference in a game."

King's next contest is a home tilt with rival Brunswick on Friday, and the Vikings will get the opportunity to avenge Wednesday's defeat to Masters when the Vikings pay a visit the Panthers next week. Although all eight teams in the conference qualify for the postseason, Dobbs knows his team will continue to fight in their quest to stop the losing skid.

"That's one thing I can never complain about with my kids," Dobbs said. "They always complete; we've lost quite a few games lately but they still believe in themselves and think they can win. So when they get down they believe they still have a chance to win if they do the right things on the floor."

Masters 56, King 48

MASTERS (9-5, 6-4 FAA)

Josh Bunch 0 5-6 5 Mike Jurzynski 9 6-8 24 Max Ishmael 2 2-2 6 Isiah Hayden 5 0-0 13 Tim Reitzenstein 4 0-3 8. Totals: 20 13-19 56.

KING (9-8, 2-6 FAA)

Mike Correa 0 0-0 0 Connor Harris 1 0-0 2 Drew Sawyer 5 13-19 25 Nick Della Jacono 3 0-0 7 Guilbert Francois 6 0-0 12 Chris Massucco 1 0-0 2. Totals: 16 13-19 48.

MASTERS 28 28--56

KING 32 16--48

3-Pointers: M--Hayden 3; K--Della Jacono, Sawyer 2.