Not only did the Skaneateles boys basketball team clinch a winning record for the 2007-08 season, it did so by gaining a confidence-boosting season sweep of a long-time rival.
In the duel of equally named Laker teams, Skaneateles again came out on top against Cazenovia last Wednesday night, doing so this time in front of a delighted home crowd as it pulled way down the stretch to a 60-53 victory.
When they first met, on Dec. 21 at Buckley Gym, the western Lakers prevailed. But it was supposed to be tougher in the rematch, as the eastern Lakers were riding a six-game win streak and was playing its best basketball of the season.
Right away, Eric Richards took charge of the Skaneateles attack, helping it match baskets with Cazenovia throughout a 13-13 first quarter.
Without a doubt, the game turned when one of Cazenovia's top players, Chris Nourse, went out early in the second period after falling hard on a drive to the basket, injuring his lower back. He did not return.
Despite this, the game remained even until Richards hit a 3-pointer while fouled in the final seconds of the first half. Even though Richards missed the free throw, he still had 13 points at halftime, and Skaneateles had a 23-20 edge it would not relinquish.
All through the second half, whenever the eastern Lakers made a push, the western Lakers pushed back, mainly by having Richards and Jake Tracy hit shots and with forwards Nick Pesarchick and Jon Eppolito dominating the paint. Cazenovia was generous, too, missing 13 of the 20 free throws it took.
An 8-2 run late in the fourth quarter sealed it, as Richards finished with 24 points and Tracy added 14 points. Pesarchick had seven points and 10 rebounds, as Eppolito added eight points and eight rebounds. Cazenovia, in defeat, got 20 points from Cody Ash and 10 points from Trent Widrick.
Skaneateles now looks to follow it up Friday, against Homer.