Three days after it was supposed to happen, the Cazenovia boys basketball team got to "Jam the Gym" last Monday and welcome Marcellus, intent on avenging a Jan. 4 loss to the Mustangs and ending that team's 12-game win streak.
By playing close to perfection in the first half, the Lakers got that payback, and gave itself a rocket boost toward the Section III Class B playoffs with a 58-46 victory over the Mustangs that really wasn't that close.
Cazenovia gave Aaron Burbidge, Tom Eschen, Peter Lokai and Adam Washbon a grand reception on Senior Night, as students and fans alike donned the "Jam the Gym" T-shirts and roared all night.
Remembering its earlier meeting with Marcellus, where it shot under 20 percent, did not even make a 3-pointer and put just 29 points on the scoreboard, Cazenovia reached that number before halftime in the rematch.
In doing so, the Lakers smothered the Mustangs on the defensive side. Every pass, every shot, every inch of space was contested as Cazenovia gave its fans a stark reminder of the resistance that helped the team win the OHSL Liberty division title.
"Our kids were ready," said head coach Todd Widrick. "Our defense played the best it has played all season in the first half."
Lokai, more than anyone, defined that presence. Every time the Mustangs missed a shot, Lokai seemed to snap up the ball, igniting the Lakers' attack. He would finish with 10 rebounds, to go with seven points.
Essentially, the Lakers flipped the results of the first meeting, holding Marcellus to six-for-22 shooting as it built a 33-13 lead by halftime and got up by as much as 28 (45-17) in the third quarter.
All around, there were omens. Trent Widrick hit the first two 3-pointers he tried. Bryan Wight came off the bench and hit three treys of his own, the last of them a one-handed prayer as the shot clock ran out that seemed to confirm to everyone at Buckley Gym that this was the Lakers' night.