Jan 17, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
When the Cazenovia boys basketball team left the Fabius-Pompey Tournament Dec. 28 after a second-place finish in that event, it was 5-4, and far from the confident and hard-charging unit it had been the year before.
So head coach Todd Widrick decided to emphasize the basics again, hoping that simple approach would get the Lakers moving again.
It sure seems to be working, as Cazenovia has gone 5-0 in the new year, including impressive OHSL Liberty division wins over Marcellus and Westhill that seems to indicate that the Lakers still harbor championship dreams.
Not even a week after handing 11-0 Marcellus its first defeat, the Lakers further improved its profile last Tuesday night, taking over down the stretch to beat Westhill 49-42 at Buckley Gym.
Every game against Westhill is super-charged, partially because Widrick spent the first part of his coaching career there, taking the Warriors to a state Class B championship in 1997.
This proved to be no different, as Westhill, coming into the game with a 10-2 record and a five-game win streak of its own, engaged Cazenovia in just the kind of grinding contest that it wanted.
With it man-to-man defense, Westhill held the Lakers to just two 3-point attempts in the first half. Meanwhile, the Warriors hit four treys, three of them by Mike Stirpe, and led by as much as eight before taking a 28-22 advantage to the break.
Gradually, the Lakers crept closer in the third quarter, helped in no small part by Westhill’s massive struggles at the foul line. Of the first 22 free throws it attempted, the Warriors made just nine of them, preventing a bigger margin for Cazenovia to overcome.
By the fourth quarter, Cazenovia’s defense was in full shutdown mode. In contrast to the matchup zone it used to rattle Marcellus, it played straight man-to-man here, smothering the Warriors at every turn. Over the course of the final period, Westhill had just one field goal.
Still, Cazenovia clung to a 40-39 lead when, with two minutes left, Chris Nourse took over.
Working his way back from an injury that had briefly sidelined him earlier this month, Nourse made three consecutive drives to the basket in a span of 1:06 and hit on three lay-ups, breaking Westhill’s resistance.
Nourse finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and five streals and, when he fouled out in the final seconds, got a rousing ovation from the fans and even applause from his teammates on the court.
Not that Nourse did the work alone. Cody Ash scored a team-best 15 points, while Bryan Wight mixed up 14 points with seven assists. Colin Hill and Trent Widrick each had seven rebounds. Stirpe (20 points) and Dan Ross (10 points) led Westhill’s attack.
Cazenovia will look for five in a row Friday night, when it visits Solvay.