Instead of basking in the glow of the Section III Class B-2 championship it won last winter, the Cazenovia girls basketball team found itself dealing with an unexpected leadership change.
The sudden departure of head coach Paul Harney left the Lakers scrambling to find a replacement just before practices got underway for 2008-09.
Ultimately, Cazenovia turned to Steve Miles as Harney's successor. Miles is a familiar name in Central New York basketball circles, having coached previously at Fayetteville-Manlius, where his record included an undefeated regular season in 1998-99.
A decade later, and following years away from the high-school coaching ranks, Miles has returned, inheriting a Laker squad intent on trying to at least match the 20-3 mark it established on the way to the B-2 crown.
On one hand, it will be difficult, since three starters -- Carrie Stevens, Molly Dougherty and Rachel Hardke -- need to be replaced. On the other hand, Kiley Evans is still around, one of the area's best all-around players and a senior headed next fall for the NCAA Division I ranks at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut.
With this blend of new and familiar faces, the Lakers opened last Tuesday at Solvay and did a sensational job on the defensive side in the course of a 37-21 victory over the Bearcats.
Eager to get started, Cazenovia went on an opening 14-3 run, shook off a poor second quarter, and got hot again after the break, building a 32-11 lead by the end of the third quarter.
With all that emphasis on shutting down Solvay's attack, the Lakers' own offense could take its time getting established. Evans had just 10 points, but Katie Mullins stepped up to get 10 points in support. Solvay's Tessa Pucello led both sides with 11 points.
For its home opener Friday night at Buckley Gym, the Lakers will face Marcellus.