With a chance to rise above the .500 mark, the Cazenovia girls basketball team faced some drama in the course of working through the Unadilla Valley Tournament.
In fact, some late heroics were needed in Monday's opening round against Sherburne-Earlville, as the Lakers fought past the Marauders 41-39.
One of the Center State Conference's better sides, S-E shut down Cazenovia's attack for large portions of the first half, and the Lakers went to the break with a 19-14 deficit.
All that changed in the third quarter, though, as the tempo increased on both ends and the Lakers' trio of Ellen Burr, Ashley Stec and Taylor Malmsheimer hit baskets on a regular basis.
But the Lakers' defense took over in the fourth quarter, holding S-E to just five points. Despite this, Cazenovia still needed Burr to hit a clutch basket with 20 seconds left and Colleen Dougherty to sink a late free throw -- her only point of the night.
Overall, Burr had 15 points, with Stec (10 points) also hitting double figures. With Raeanne Clabeaux struggling (just one field goal), Malmsheimer hit a pair of 3-pointers on her way to nine points on the night.
Cazenovia would play Harpursville in the championship game Tuesday night and built a big enough margin to withstand a late rally and take the tournament title by a score of 48-41.
The middle stages proved decisive. Again turning to its defense, the Lakers held Harpursville to a combined 13 points in the second and third periods, giving itself enough time to build up a 38-26 margin. Harpursville made a late push, but could not come all the way back.
Burr led with 15 points and earned tournament MVP honors. Stec added 12 points, while Malmsheimer continued to step up, earning 11 points.
Now at 5-3, the Lakers hit the midway point of the regular season with a big home test against OHSL Liberty division leader Westhill next Wednesday before going to Hannibal two nights later.