Boys basketball Lakers clinch league titles

New and wonderful things keep happening to the Cazenovia boys basketball team -- and it's earned every laurel accorded to them.

When the Lakers pulled away down the stretch to beat Bishop Grimes, 68-56, last Wednesday night, it clinched the outright OHSL Liberty division championship, the first in school history.

"This is a special group of kids, and this (title) is a culmination of a lot of hard work," said head coach Todd Widrick.

As it went to Grimes, the Lakers knew that it had to win here, or have the league title be decided Friday night against a Marcellus team that had won 11 in a row.

Showing its intentions quickly, Cazenovia put together a 15-1 run in the first quarter to go out in front, 19-5. It would spend the rest of the night clinging to that lead.

Providing an unexpected boost from the bench, Bryan Wight had three 3-pointers and 11 of his 13 points in the first half.

Despite this, the Lakers saw a lead that grew as large as 15 (31-16) shrink to 37-29 by halftime, and it had two key players, Aaron Burbidge and Tom Eschen, saddled with three fouls apiece.

Cazenovia clung to that eight-point lead through the third quarter, only to watch the Cobras surge in the final periods, forging ties of 53-53 and 55-55.

However, Grimes would never get in front, and in the final 90 seconds, with his team still up by a point (57-56), Burbidge took over.

Driving down the late with 1:27 left, Burbidge was fouled. He sank both free throws. After a Grimes miss, Burbidge got the ball back, drove, scored -- and was fouled again. He made the foul shot, and the Cobras never could recover as the Lakers closed on an 11-0 run, going nine-for-nine from the foul line.

"We know if we get Aaron the ball, he'll make the right decisions and he'll come through for us," said Widrick.

Burbidge and Chris Nourse led the Lakers with 14 points apiece, with Burbidge also earning five assists. Peter Lokai finished with eight points and 12 rebounds, while Trent Widrick added nine points and Eschen got all seven of his points (plus seven rebounds and four assists) in the second half.

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