For the second year in a row, the Skaneateles boys basketball team had a chance to advance to the Section III Class B-1 title game at Westhill's expense.
But in the same Onondaga Community College gym where the Warriors eliminated them a year ago, the Lakers again saw its season get closed out, Westhill defeating them 50-36.
While the scores looked similar to last year's 53-39 decision, this edition was different in that Skaneateles, the no. 4 seed, did not fall into an early deficit. Rather, it matched the Warriors, nearly basket for basket, well into the fourth quarter.
Of course, those baskets came at an infrequent pace. The accumulated knowledge of two regular-season meetings almost assured that the defenses would thrive, and for Skaneateles, the plan was particular.
The Lakers would concentrate all its energy on containing Dan Ross, Westhill's leading scorer and one of its top rebounders, too.
On that front, it proved quite successful, as Ross (who averages more than 16 points per game) had just five points and one field goal. Other players would have to beat Skaneateles.
Tom Fisher tried to do so early, as the big Westhill junior center had eight points to put the Lakers in an early 12-7 deficit.
By the middle of the second quarter, though, the Lakers were in front, sparked by the work of freshman Brandon Barron. A trio of Barron's field goals helped Skaneateles take the lead twice in that period, and it only trailed by one, 20-19, going into the break.
Even with a pair of Mike McMullen 3-pointers in the third quarter, Skaneateles wouldn't go away, and in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, it only trailed, 30-29, with a real chance to win.
Then Westhill took it away. A Fisher rebound basket off a missed Ross free throw launched a 14-4 run that decided matters. Fisher would finish with 17 points, with McMullen adding 13 points.
Meanwhile, the Lakers saw Barron lead the way with 10 points, as Paul O'Donnell earned eight points and Nick Pesarchick earned six points.
Skaneateles ended this season with a 13-9 mark. Of the departing seniors, only Pesarchick and Will Polacheck saw significant playing time in the Westhill game. Barron, O'Donnell, Kevin Rice, Kyle McQuiggan, Tom Schoener and Kelly Donigan lead a strong returning cast for 2009-10 that could have championship ambitions.