Feb 28, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
For a quarter-century, the Skaneateles girls basketball team has waited to taste Section III championship glory.
That wait will linger for at least one more year, this after the Lakers’ 45-39 loss to Clinton in last Tuesday night’s Class B-2 final at Cicero-North Syracuse.
The Warriors advanced to Saturday’s overall Class B final at Onondaga Community College against defending state champion South Jefferson, who moved to 23-0 by beating Westhill 59-42 in the B-1 title game.
With one glaring exception, Skaneateles matched the Warriors’ intensity and effort, especially on the defensive side.
That exception came at the start of the second half. From a 14-14 tie, Clinton produced 11 unanswered points, the only spurt either team could manage all night. It forced the Lakers to play catch-up, something it could not quite pull off.
As the score indicated, the first half was a mighty struggle for points. Skaneateles head coach Bob Braunitzer said his players had plenty of opportunities, but didn’t recognize all of them.
“We just kept missing players that were wide open,” he said.
Still, as the second quarter wound down, the Lakers appeared to gain a major edge when Clinton’s leading scorer, Cassie Maxam, went to the sidelines with an injury. Her return was questionable.
Yet at the start of the third quarter, Maxam returned — and promptly hit two baskets to spark the Warriors’ pivotal 11-0 run.
Skaneateles was shut out for more than five minutes, yet used 3-pointers by Caryn Crary and Emily Ross to pull back within five, 27-22, by the end of the period.
For much of the fourth quarter, Clinton camped out at the free-throw line, sinking enough of the foul shots to build its lead to as large as 12 before Skaneateles, with some late 3-pointers, slashed the margin to five.
“I’m proud of them,” said Braunitzer. “They battled right to the end. But they (Clinton) hit the free throws, and we didn’t.”
All through the came, Clinton forward Marquita Pring hurt the Lakers’ defense, finishing with 18 points, eight of them foul shots. No other Warrior had more than Maxam’s total of six points.
Crary led Skaneateles with 13 points, while Ross came off the bench to produce nine points and Lauren Adams added six points.
After it was done, Braunitzer and his players took time to applaud the fans that came out to CNS and had supported the team all season. Each of the players also got flowers as a thank-you for the job they had done.
“I told them (at the end) that this is where you want to be,” said Braunitzer. “We can take a lot away from this, because it’s hard to get this far.”
One thing Skaneateles can take away is an expectation to be back. Only Adams departs from this 15-8 team. Everyone else, including Crary, Ross, Alexis Jones, Brittany LaVaute, Sarah Trust, Staci Dudden, Katherine Pille and Katie Driscoll, will be back next winter to go for the Lakers’ first sectional championship since 1982.