One thing is almost assured when the Cazenovia and Bishop Ludden girls basketball teams get together -- that it will not be decided until the very end.
From the last-second Kiley Evans shot that decided the 2008 Section III Class B-2 final to a 53-50 Gaelic Knights win at Buckley Gym on Jan. 6, nothing between these two opponents is gained without working all 32 minutes for it.
Such was the case again in Geddes last Wednesday night, when the Lakers assumed full control of the OHSL Liberty division race by fending off Ludden 47-46, the second of two huge road wins in a span of four days.
Back on Feb. 1, Cazenovia had gone to Westhill and rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to prevail 47-42, seizing first place in the league standings. Evans got nine of her 20 points in the fourth quarter and fellow senior Kassie Kleine played first-rate defense, also hitting the 3-pointer with 1:25 left that put the Lakers ahead for good.
Now the Lakers went after Ludden, a team with no seniors that had stayed in the OHSL Liberty race behind a diverse attack that intended to pick up the pace against the tough Cazenovia defense.
In the game's first six minutes, the Lakers handled all this with relative ease, roaring out to a 12-4 lead. Ludden caught up by the second quarter, and though Cazenovia moved its lead back out to 18-11, the Gaelic Knights would rise again, and Michelle Roesch hit a 3-pointer just before halftime to tie it at 22-22.
They stayed even through the third quarter, too, though sophomore Ashley Stec got eight of her team-high 14 points in this frame, helping to make up for foul trouble that limited Ellen Burr's court time.
That reflected a trend where Cazenovia was going to make Ludden pay for double-teaming Evans all night. Evans had just four points, but gladly set up her teammates for open looks. Aside from Stec, Katie Mullins also stepped up, earning 11 points, while Kleine got all of her nine points from a trio of 3-pointers.