Having waited a long time to get started, the Cazenovia boys basketball team did not waste time getting a chance to improve upon last season's woes.
The Lakers trailed Jordan-Elbridge going into the fourth quarter of last Wednesday night's opener at Buckley Gym, but made a stirring comeback and beat the Eagles by a score of 64-60.
Cazenovia went 3-18 in the 2008-09 season, but it was a young group under a new head coach, Steve Yarnell, playing most of its games in a brutal league, the OHSL Liberty division, with powers like Westhill, Marcellus and Bishop Grimes to face twice per season.
Most everyone is back, and the hungry Lakers took to matching baskets with J-E in a fast-paced first half.
Still, the Eagles went out in front, 38-32, by halftime, and stayed there through the third quarter. Mostly, Tom Graf was responsible for this, leading J-E with 26 points.
But the Lakers had more balance and depth -- and that especially stood out in the final period, where it tore through J-E's defenses and outscored them 21-11 to finish in front.
Chad Dorrance led with 15 points, with Max Kellish producing 14 points and Chris Schaffner adding 13 points. Zack Golden had eight points and Doyle Judge picked up six points. By contrast, other than Graf, Jeff Donofrio (10 points) was the only J-E player to reach double figures.
Going for a 2-0 start, the Lakers hosted Phoenix Friday night and again found the win column, leading most of the way in a 67-50 victory over the Firebirds.
To take control, Cazenovia held Phoenix to six points in the first quarter. And even when the Firebirds' offense woke up in the second period, the Lakers topped them, 24-18, to move its halftime margin to 35-24.
Gradually, the Lakers pulled clear in the second half behind Kellish, whose 23 points included a trio of 3-pointers. Golden, with 13 points, and Eric Janovsky, with 11 points, also broke into double figures as Dorrance picked up eight points. Jeff Williams, with 13 points, was the Firebirds' top scorer.
On Tuesday night, the Lakers go to Solvay, looking for three wins in a row before heading home Friday to face Marcellus.