Mustangs stun Lakers in playoff OT thriller

Whatever the Marcellus girls basketball team might have done prior to last Friday night's Section III Class B-1 quarterfinal, it got eclipsed by what it did on this occasion.

Playing strong defense and withstanding an end to regulation that would make other teams reel, the Mustangs stood its ground and knocked out its biggest rival, Skaneateles, in a 36-34 overtime battle at the "Deep End" gym the Lakers call home.

Having struggled through the second half of the regular season, the no. 6 seed Mustangs were not expected to beat no. 3 seed Skanetaeles, a team with much more playoff seasoning (it went to the Class B-2 finals in 2007).

Yet contained within the Marcellus roster were players that knew all about dealing with post-season pressure, even if Sarah Holden, Rachel Farneti, Alicia Hunt and company learned it on the soccer field.

Out of the gate, the Mustangs charged, hitting all kinds of baskets and seizing a 14-4 lead by the end of the first quarter.

For the rest of regulation, though, the Mustangs would go cold, unable to get past a Laker team that specialized in defense and refused to let the game get away.

Still down by double digits, 21-11, at halftime, the Lakers made most of it up with a 12-3 surge through the third quarter, then hung around in the final period as both teams tried, without success, to hit the big shots.

This played to Marcellus' advantage, as it clung to a 32-29 edge as regulation time wound down. But just when it looked like the win was secure, Skaneateles' Brittany LaVaute hit a big 3-pointer, tying it 32-32 and sending the game to overtime.

Such a big shot can do two things -- either force an underdog team to crumble, or stiffen its resolve. As it turned out, the Mustangs had plenty of resolve left.

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