To get a chance at the Section III Class B-1 championship, the Cazenovia girls basketball team would have to conquer Westhill for a third time in the span of a month.
The first win over the Warriors,47-42 at Westhill on Feb. 1, pushed the Lakers into the OHSL LIberty division lead. The 53-34 romp in the rematch Feb. 13 at Buckley Gym clinched the league title.
Now comes the third - and most meaningful - battle, in Friday night's Class B-1 semifinals at Jamesville-DeWitt, with the winner to face South Jefferson or Bishop Ludden for the title next Tuesday, also at J-D.
Getting there for Cazenovia (18-3) wasn't too difficult. When the no. 2 seed Lakers made its post-season debut Tuesday night against no. 7 seed Solvay in the B-1 quarterfinals, the home crowd got yet another display of defense as Cazenovia ripped the Bearcats 60-30.
Having not played in 11 days, Cazenovia took a while to shake off some offensive rust, but its perimeter defense worked from the opening tip to keep Solvay from getting the ball inside to start forward Tessa Pucello.
And though Pucello finished with 11 points, she had to fight hard for all of them. Meanwhile, the more diverse Lakers started to find the range in the second quarter with an 18-9 push, generally maintaining that vibe for the rest of the night.
No less than 10 Cazenovia players converted on field goals. Kiley Evans and Kassie Kleine led the way with 12 points apiece, while Tori Widrick came off the bench to earn seven points. Ashley Stec and Katie Kleine each had six points, with Ellen Burr adding five points.
As this was going on, Westhill, the no. 3 seed, was taking out Marcellus 79-48 behind Carly Cooper's 28 points. In the two previous Westhill-Cazenovia meetings, Cooper had got 16 total points with Kassie Kleine defending her. It remains to be seen whether Kleine can shut Cooper down again.