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Lakers end Westhill jinx, move to 8-0

Todd Widrick had heard the talk as his Cazenovia boys basketball team roared out to a 7-0 start.

"(People told us) that you aren't nothing until you beat Westhill," said Widrick. "We have to go through them to have a good season."

And after seven futile tries to beat the team he once coached, Widrick and his Lakers finally found some satisfaction Friday night, toppling the two-time defending Section III Class B champion Warriors 61-47 in front of a loud and raucous gathering at Buckley Gym.

Everyone on the Cazenovia side understood what this victory meant.

"We've been waiting for this for a long time," said senior point guard Tom Eschen, amid a happy throng of students on the court at game's end.

With first place in the OHSL Liberty division at stake, the Lakers had all the advantages, from the cozy and intimate support of its home crowd to an opponent now working with less than a full deck.

A week prior to the game, junior Dale Ross, arguably his team's best player, left the team to focus on his football future. Dan Ross, a talented but raw freshman, took his spot in the starting lineup.

Even if Dale was present, though, it might not have mattered. After allowing the game's first five points, the Lakers took over in every phase of the game.

Eschen, the team's defensive specialist, had a lot to do with it. Despite his 5-11 stature, he locked onto Westhill's 6-3 forward, Jim Ross, and made him fight hard for every inch of court space.

By halftime, Eschen also was cleaning up in other phases of the game, piling up seven points, nine rebounds and four assists to spark the Cazenovia attack. He would finish with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

"Tom is a competitor," said Widrick. "I wouldn't trade him for anybody."

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