A long time -- 41 years, to be exact -- has passed since the Cazenovia boys basketball team claimed a Section III championship.
And despite a school record for victories in 2006-07 and an OHSL Liberty division title, the Lakers were denied that crown again.
Holland Patent played the role of spoiler last Saturday night at Manley Field House, the Golden Knights using its size and timely 3-point shooting to beat Cazenovia 57-46 in the sectional Class B-1 semifinals.
At the start of the post-season, HP did not seem too imposing with its 11-9 record and no. 6 seed in the B-1 bracket. But most of those defeats had come against Class A opponents like New Hartford, V-V-S and Utica-Notre Dame in the tough Tri-Valley League.
Toughened by those games, the Golden Knights went north on Feb. 17 and dismissed Frontier League champion South Jefferson 67-54 in the quarterfinals.
Now, the Lakers got its shot at HP. They traded the lead in the first quarter, but the Golden Knights snatched it for good on Dave Golembiowski's 3-pointer near the end of the period.
So began a frustrating pattern. Cazenovia would hang close all night, only to see HP put in a shot at just the moment it was needed to keep the Lakers from catching up.
The Lakers were within three when the Knights hit a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer. Just the same, the margin was five when, at the end of the third quarter, Golembiowski returned to sink another trey to make it 38-30.
As this was going on, Cazenovia made just two of 17 from outside the arc, and just 32.4 percent of its shots overall. And even though the Lakers trimmed a 12-point deficit to five in the fourth quarter, HP rode solid free-throw shooting (14 for 18, all in the second half) to a B-1 finals appearance against Marcellus.