Jan 10, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
For Cazenovia boys basketball head coach Todd Widrick, the occasion of his 300th coaching victory in the high school ranks gave him a chance to look back with pride — and look ahead with a clear mind.
Those mixed emotions were stirred up the moment his Lakers had beaten Hannibal, 54-52, last Tuesday night at Buckley Gym. In his 18th year of coaching, Widrick has an overall record of 300-82
“It’s a relief to get it over with,” he said. “And it’s just a number. But it allowed me to reminisce on all the teams I’ve coached. I’ve been pretty lucky to have good kids and good athletes who are interested in getting better and doing the work.”
Widrick built most of that record at Westhill from 1985 to 2000, where his accomplishments included six Section III titles and a state Class B championship in 1997.
After four years at Cazenovia College, Widrick moved across town in 2004 and returned to the high school ranks.
In less than three years, he has transformed the Lakers from a middle-of-the-road program into a powerhouse, going to the sectional Class B-1 final in 2006 and starting 11-0 this year.
Even with the 48-29 defeat to Marcellus on Jan. 6, Cazenovia remained in high regard, owning the no. 9 spot in the latest state Class B rankings.
Still, to get Widrick his milestone, Cazenovia would have to subdue a tough Hannibal squad that entered with a 9-3 record and was not intimidated by the loud, intimate setting at Buckley Gym — or by the fan’s hopes for some history.
Throughout the first half, it remained close. The Lakers had a 16-14 lead after one quarter, but the paced slowed in the second period and the Warriors caught up, creating a 24-24 halftime tie.
Cazenovia pulled back in front during an active third quarter, taking a 41-37 lead by the end of that frame and continuing to work hard until, with less than three minutes left, it enjoyed a 50-40 edge.
Again, the Warriors rallied, taking advantage of some missed Laker free throws and, by the final seconds, forcing a 52-52 tie.
As time wound down, Cazenovia got the ball in the right person’s hands. Aaron Burbidge charged to the net and was fouled. Close to automatic at the line, Burbidge hit two foul shots with 12 seconds left.
Still, Hannibal had a chance. After a time-out, the Warriors put up two shots. Both were off target, time ran out — and the celebration began.
A nice touch was provided by Tim Allen, one of the players on Widrick’s first Westhill team in 1985-86 and later the man that succeeded Widrick in that post. He brought in a box of T-shirts for the Cazenovia students to wear, commemorating the occasion.
Chris Nourse had enjoyed a career night, as the junior finished with 20 points. Cody Ash finished with 11 points, while Burbidge had nine points and Trent Widrick added eight points on the night his father reached a milestone.
Happy as Widrick was that the 300th win was out of the way, he said he was even more pleased that the Lakers could rest and recharge for eight days before playing again.
“We haven’t been playing great the last few games,” he said. “Now we have a break where we can work on things.”
Widrick said that his team had played at a high level all the way through its Dec. 22 win over Westhill — the first time in seven tries that Widrick had beaten his one-time employer.
After that, he added, the energy level dropped off, and Cazenovia was lucky to pull out some games (the Dec. 27 comeback against Chittenango, and the Hannibal game), but not as lucky at Marcellus, where the win streak ended.
That, combined with the hoopla surrounding Widrick’s 300th win, is something both the coach and his players hopes will fade into the past as the Lakers go after its first sectional championship since 1966.