Dec 16, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
In the short span of six days, the Skaneateles boys basketball team has undergone a serious transformation.
Once a solid, yet uninspiring contender, the Lakers have now become a prime front-runner for both OHSL Liberty division and Section III Class B honors, simply because it knows how to finish.
On the heels of its near-miraculous rally to beat Marcellus on Dec. 11, Skaneateles went to Westhill Wednesday and pulled off another fourth-quarter comeback to fight past the Warriors 48-44, sealing it on Paul O’Donnell’s two free throws with 2.5 seconds left.
In many ways, this second big win in as many outings was more impressive than the first one, because (1) it was a road game and (2) the opponent, Westhill, had knocked out Skaneateles each of the last two seasons in the Class B-1 semifinals.
Still, it took the Lakers erasing a 10-point deficit in the last two minutes against Marcellus to make the players believe that such things could happen again.
And the Westhill game followed a familiar plot, with some variations. Again, the Lakers started poorly, falling behind 11-2 in the game’s first five minutes, unable to get good shots against the Warriors’ trademark man-to-man defense.
Still down by nine, 17-8, as the second quarter started, things began to turn when Westhill’s star forward, Dan Ross, went to the bench with two early fouls.
Ross would stay in foul trouble the rest of the night, and the Lakers would benefit from his reduced presence. With Kevin Rice and Tom Schoener each getting eight points, the Lakers pulled within two, 24-22, by halftime.
Westhill did stretch out its lead to 36-29 in the third quarter, and it was still a seven-point margin, 40-33, early in the final period – as it turned out, just where Skaneateles wanted to be.
The Lakers’ defense kept forcing turnovers – and key 3-pointers, first by Brandon Barron, then by Rice, cut the margin to one before Rice’s free throw with 1:17 to play tied it, 42-42.
On the Lakers’ next possession, Pat Robert put in a rebound basket with 45 seconds left. Ross fouled out seconds later, but Westhill didn’t go away as, after a Barron free throw, Justin Biles hit a driving lay-up with 10.1 seconds left to make it 45-44.
Rice was fouled, and made one free throw. Westhill now had a chance to tie or take the lead with a 3-pointer – but Biles turned it over. O’Donnell was fouled moments later, and hit the clinching free throws.
Rice led both sides with 15 points, while Schoener got nine points. O’Donnell had eight points, with Barron and Roberts adding six points apiece. The Lakers (4-1) play at Solvay Friday before hosting Cazenovia next Wednesday night.