Though it will be quite difficult to top a 19-3 campaign, the Cazenovia boys basketball team will still make the attempt.
And the Lakers will do so without three starters -- Aaron Burbidge, Peter Lokai and Tom Eschen -- that formed the heart of that 2006-07 squad which earned the OHSL Liberty division title before falling to Holland Patent 65-55 in the Section III Class B-1 semifinal.
If its own tip-off tournament is any indication, Cazenovia might offer a faster style of play while still clinging to head coach Todd Widrick's defensive principles -- and it could still win a lot, too.
Meeting Rome Free Academy in last Wednesday's opening round at Buckley Gym, the Lakers started quick and never let up, ripping the Black Knights 81-51.
By the time the first quarter ended, Cazenovia already had 27 on the board, then matched baskets with RFA until a 16-7 domination of the third quarter put it away.
Chris Nourse, fresh off his post-season football heroics, led the way with 22 points. Bryan Wight was close behind, earning 19 points, including a trio of 3-pointers. Cody Ash poured in 16 points as Trent Widrick earned 10 points and Chris Schaffner got six points.
In Saturday's final, Cazenovia would meet Freddie Thomas, a Rochester-area school that knocked off South Jefferson 68-55 in the other opening-round contest.
The title game turned out to be a tight one, but Cazenovia pulled it off, coming from behind to beat Thomas 68-66.
Through an active first half, the teams traded baskets, and the Lakers' early advantage proved precarious as it took a 39-38 lead to the break.
Thomas c0ntrolled the third quarter and went out in front, 56-50. But led by Nourse and Ash, the Lakers stormed back, pulled in front again, and hung on thanks to Colin Hill earning a pair of key blocks down the stretch.
Nourse, the tournament MVP, improved upon his RFA showing by pouring in 26 points this time around, a new career mark. Ash was dominant inside, augmenting his 14 points with 13 rebounds, as Wight added 11 points. South Jefferson beat RFA 53-46 in the consolation game.
Cazenovia stays at home Tuesday to face Marcellus, off to its own 2-0 start after beating Phoenix and Oswego in its own tip-off tournament. The Lakers' first road game is Friday night, at Homer.