To keep its defense of the Section III Class B championship alive, the Cazenovia girls basketball team will need to beat the team it dethroned a season ago.
The no. 8 seed Lakers smothered no. 9 seed Marcellus 60-36 in Tuesday night's opening round of the Class B playoffs at Buckley Gym, setting up a trip north to Adams to meet top seed South Jefferson in Friday night's quarterfinals.
Cazenovia's 41-31 victory over the Spartans in the 2009 Class B-1 final ended South Jefferson's six-year reign atop the sectional ranks.
This winter, with every starter back, the Spartans went 18-0 in the regular season and is still atop the state Class B rankings.In short, the Lakers' challenge is a big one - but judging by the way it played against Marcellus, it just might have a chance.
Though both the Lakers and Mustangs went 12-6 this season and split their regular-season meetings, Cazenovia had a full roster, a contrast to Marcellus, who had seen key player defections during the season.
Up 8-6 after one period, Cazenovia began to pull clear in the second quarter with a 13-4 run, six of the points coming from Ashley Stec, back from an injury suffered in a lost to Westhill six days earlier.
And that was just the warm-up act. In the third quarter, Stec again proved the catalyst as the Lakers closed the period with an 18-4 outburst.
All the while, Cazenovia's defense mixed up its looks and forced a long string of Marcellus turnovers, also proving to be quicker and more energetic than the Mustangs as the night went on.
Stec, overall, had 16 points, while Raeanne Clabeaux earned 12 points and Ellen Burr got 10 points. Kristen Romagnoli stepped up, too, earning eight points.