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.