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Lakers fall to South Jefferson in tense Class B final

Since both teams pride themselves in playing defense, the first half turned into a bitter struggle for points, one where Cazenovia appeared to gain the upper hand.

At one point in the second quarter, the Laker defense, anchored on the perimeter by Kassie Kleine, held South Jefferson without a field goal for more than five minutes, overcoming its own four-minute drought to start the game and building a 16-9 advantage at one point. And most of this was done without forward Rachel Hardke, who got into early foul trouble but would return later and shine, as usual, on the defensive side.

Bassett would bring the Spartans back. She hit a 3-pointer just before halftime to make it 16-12 and, in the second half, hit on 16 more points to give her 22 for the night, a new career mark.

"Rachael didn't look like a freshman," said her father, South Jefferson head coach Pat Bassett.

Cazenovia went right with Bassett, though, creating an extraordinary homestretch where, over the last nine-plus minutes, the lead would switch hands 13 times, the massive fan contingents on both sides trading salvos of noise all the way through.

Evans, Dougherty, Rachel Stevens and Katie Mullins all hit baskets that would counter what Bassett and Niles were doing on the other end, each side raising their level of play on offense to match what the other was doing.

Cazenovia took what would be its last lead, 39-38, when Dougherty hit a lay-up with 1:33 left, but it would not score again. A pair of Leah Williams free throws with 1:05 left put the Spartans in front 40-39, setting up all the action at the end.

Dougherty, with 11 points, led the Lakers in scoring, as Mullins had 10 points, Evans nine points and Stevens seven points, all at the foul line. Niles' clinching foul shots gave her 14 points on the night to complement Bassett's big effort.

Despite this defeat, Cazenovia, at 20-3, still had its most successful season in the program's history, setting a school record for wins and taking both the OHSL Liberty and Class B-2 titles.

Doing so again next winter might be difficult without Dougherty, Stevens and Hardke. Evans, Kleine and Mullins will return, having accomplished so much -- yet still wanting to take the Lakers just a bit further.

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