When it started 3-0, the Skaneateles boys basketball team was, for the most part, politely discussed, then cast aside as everyone waited for the big boys in the OHSL Liberty division to take the Lakers down.
That didn't happen, though. Instead, Skaneateles pushed back - and thrust itself into the spotlight.
Mostly, the Lakers did so by handing two-time defending Section III Class B champion Westhill its first defeat of the season, relying on relentless defense and plenty of patience to stun the Warriors 50-44.
Right from the start, Skaneateles made it a physical contest, willing to give up fouls in order to keep the faster and more athletic Warriors from cruising to the basket. That strategy paid off when Westhill endured massive struggles at the free-throw line. Of the 19 foul shots it attempted, the Warriors made just six. Jim Ross, who torched Bishop Grimes for 26 points on Dec. 8, had just 15 points in this outing.
Meanwhile, the Lakers worked the 35-second shot clock on offense and spread things around. Gregg Cooper led with 13 points, but Tyler Pundt and Jake Tracy were right behind, each with nine points, and Eric Richards added seven points.
Steadily, the Lakers built a 38-26 lead through three periods, then held on as Westhill made its push. It took big free throws by Tracy and Devlen Murphy to finally seal the biggest Skaneateles basketball victory in a long time.
Great as this was, the Lakers have little time to savor it -- for just 48 hours later, another undefeated foe, Cazenovia, arrives with a 5-0 mark to see just which Laker team is the best for now.