Lakers rally again, knock off Westhill

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.

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