Cobras hold off Cazenovia, run win streak to nine

For someone as red-hot as the Bishop Grimes boys basketball team was going into the Section III Class B playoffs, the last thing it wanted to do was sit for a week.

Yet that was the Cobras' situation as, after closing the regular season with eight consecutive wins, it had to hold on for seven days before plunging into the Class B-1 tournament bracket.

As it turned out, the break did absolutely nothing to hurt Grimes -- except, perhaps, make the games a bit closer.

In front of a packed home crowd Saturday night in East Syracuse, the no. 4 seed Cobras fended off a strong challenge from no. 5 seed Cazenovia to earn a 71-66 victory in the B-1 quarterfinals.

The two teams had played in the exact same location eight days earlier. Grimes won that contest 73-64, and knew the Lakers would be just as difficult an opponent to face this time around when the stakes were much higher.

Cazenovia immediately focused its attention on the Cobras' star senior forward, Eric Ball, whose big offensive production had keyed the eight-game win streak. Chris Nourse followed Ball everywhere and occasionally got help to form double teams.

This caused Ball into a lot of first-half frustration, as he had more turnovers (five) than points (four). It also forced Grimes to spread out and look for other offensive options.

And the Cobras found enough of them to trade baskets with Cazenovia throughout the half until Bryan Wight hit five points in the last minute to put Grimes in a 29-24 deficit going to the break.

The third quarter saw freshman Mike Stone take charge of the Cobras' attack. Playing with maturity and confidence well beyond his years, Stone had nine of his 19 points in that frame, pushing Grimes back ahead as the lead continued to switch back and forth.

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