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Lakers beat Clinton, take first-ever Class B title

Even before it went after the Section III Class B title, the Cazenovia girls basketball team had achieved an immense level of satisfaction, since it had ended South Jefferson's six-year reign as champions during the B-1 final earlier in the week.

Now all that was left to make some new history.

And sure enough, when the Lakers shut down B-2 champion Clinton 49-34 Saturday night at Utica Memorial Auditorium, it had, for the first time, become overall sectional champions.

"This is something they've never accomplished before," head coach Steve Miles said. "And that was a motivating factor."

Cazenovia now faces undefeated (23-0) Section IV champion Oneonta in Saturday's Class B regional final at Liverpool High School at 1 p.m. The winner advances to next weekend's state final four at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy.

As has been the case all season against other opponents, the Lakers subdued the Warriors through a combination of tenacious, in-your-face defense with an offense that knew just when to hit the accelerator.

Right from the opening tip, Kiley Evans took charge on the offensive side. Up until the middle of the second quarter, the Sacred Heart-bound senior had more points (12) than Clinton's entire team as the Lakers zoomed out to a 21-11 lead.

Cazenovia went cold late in the second quarter, not scoring for nearly five minutes. Clinton slowed the game down, found some success in the paint, and only trailed by five, 21-16, at the break.

But the Lakers erupted in the third quarter, outscoring Clinton 22-9, including an 11-0 run in the middle. Miles said his team's athleticism and quickness wore the Warriors out.

"We knew we could push the ball up the floor," he said. "When we pushed, we got good opportunities. And our defense was very good."

Part of the reason Evans, who finished with 21 points and was named Class B tournament MVP, got so many good chances was the inside work of Ellen Burr. Forced to do more in the absence of injured forward Ashley Stec, Burr obliged, earning 16 points, 10 of them from successful free throws.

As a whole, the Lakers' defense, anchored again by senior Kassie Kleine, made Clinton's experience a rough one. Only Lauren Conway, who had 14 points, reached double figures on the Warriors' side.

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