Even though it has a proven star in Kiley Evans, the Cazenovia girls basketball team knows that, to really move forward and vie for league and sectional honors, others will need to step up and deliver.
The Lakers got such efforts in Thursday's OHSL Liberty division opener at Buckley Gym, as everyone in the starting five had something to do with the team's 57-46 victory over Bishop Ludden.
Having just one game under its belt (an easy win over Jordan-Elbridge on Nov. 28), the Lakers knew it faced a battle-tested foe in Ludden, whose 2-1 mark included wins over Utica-Notre Dame and Phoenix.
Still, Cazenovia would never trail in this contest. Once it went in front late in the first quarter, it maintained the lead through various key contributions.
With the Gaelic Knights worried about what Evans would do, Molly Dougherty took over the offense in the second quarter. The senior guard buried a series of mid-range jumpers, earning all of her 14 points in the first half.
Also, the Lakers dominated on the boards early, as forwards Carrie Stevens (who finished with eight points) and Rachel Hardke piled up rebounds and prevented Ludden from any second-chance shots as it built a 28-19 lead before the break.
Evans began to take over in the third quarter. In a span of less than four minutes, she put up nine of her 25 points, part of a 13-5 run that extended Cazenovia's lead to 41-28.
Ludden wouldn't quit, though. Paced by Molly Byrne, who finished with 18 points, the Gaelic Knights made its own 13-2 run and crept within two, 43-41, early in the fourth quarter before key baskets by Evans and Stevens allowed for some breathing space.
Yet it was senior point guard Kassie Kleine that delivered the dagger. With 2:44 left and the shot clock close to zero, Kleine, who hadn't scored all night, drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key that made it 52-44, all but sealing victory.
In a key game Tuesday night, Cazenovia (2-0) visited 4-0 Solvay, the first of three straight road games for the Lakers that include a Thursday trip to Marcellus and a Saturday non-league game at Mount Markham.