Even at 11-0, the Marcellus boys basketball team knew that it had pulled off a series of close calls to remain unbeaten for that long and wondered how long the run would last.
The Mustangs' long run of good fortune and better play ran out last Wednesday night, when Cazenovia came to town and changed up its defense, catching Marcellus off-guard and leading to a 62-49 defeat.
In a matter of five days, Bishop Ludden, Henninger and Marcellus had all suffered their first defeats of the season, leaving West Canada (the no. 1 team in the state Class C ranking) as Section III's lone unbeaten squad.
Back in their first meeting on Nov. 27 at Buckley Gym, Marcellus had beaten Cazenovia 72-70, nearly blowing a big second-half lead before missed free throws in the final seconds allowed the Mustangs to escape.
Seeing the way the Mustangs burned his man-to-man defense, Lakers head coach Todd Widrick switched to a matchup zone for the rematch.
By crowding out the forwards and forcing Marcellus to take 3-pointers, Widrick gambled that the outside shots would not fall -- and with the exception of Dan Heil converting five times from beyond the arc, that would be the case.
Cazenovia built a 31-27 halftime lead, then outscored Marcellus 16-9 in the third period. The Mustangs closed within six, 47-41, only to see Bryan Wight and Trent Widrick combine for a trio of 3-pointers that all but sealed the outcome.
Heil finished with 16 points, as Jeff Watson did the best work in the paint, earning 17 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. Will Fiacchi and Kyle Blackmer had six points apiece. Widrick, with 21 points, led an attack where Cody Ash had 14 points and Bryan Wight added 11 points.
What this did was put first place in the OHSL Liberty division on the line Saturday when Marcellus confronted defending Class B champion Hannibal in the Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge at LeMoyne College.