Feb 28, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
A long time — 17 years, to be precise — has passed since the Skaneateles boys basketball team knew the singular thrill of claiming a Section III title.
And that wait just got a year longer — though the Lakers tried, in every conceivable manner, to end that drought.
In a tense and exciting Class B semifinal Saturday at Onondaga Community College, the no. 3 seed Lakers seemed to have no. 2 seed Bishop Grimes beaten on several occasions — only to see the affair go to double overtime and lead to a painful 70-66 defeat.
This was supposed to be the time that Skaneateles finally caught the Cobras. Both times when they played in the regular season (Dec. 9 and Jan. 20), Grimes got off to fast starts and won, thwarting the Lakers’ chances of taking the OHSL Liberty division regular-season title.
Circumstances had changed, though. Grimes’ starting point guard, Tavon Moore, went out for the season after thumb surgery in mid-February, so the Cobras were not at full strength. Skaneateles was, and now felt ready to advance to a sectional final.
Unfazed by the eight-day layoff since its Class B quarterfinal over Solvay, the Lakers controlled much of the first quarter, a complete reversal from the first two meetings with Grimes, and sprinted out to a 17-8 lead.
Though the Cobras finally started to make baskets on a regular basis in the second period, Skaneateles matched them, and went to halftime with a 33-23 lead. The long wait to return to a sectional final appeared to be ending.
But it all changed in the third quarter. Grimes pressured more on the defensive side, forced turnovers and converted them into baskets. Led again by junior Mike Stone, who finished with 22 points, the Cobras forged a 43-43 tie with one period left.
Through a tense final period, neither side could get away, the defenses assuming control as points became precious. As regulation time wound down, chances to win the game faltered, and at 51-51, the two sides entered overtime.
Again, it looked like Skaneateles would win. Both Paul O’Donnell, who finished with 18 points, and Pat Roberts, who finished with 14 points, fouled out, but still the Lakers seized a 60-57 lead and needed just one more defensive stop to close Grimes out.
Skaneateles smothered Stone, making sure he didn’t get a look — but forward Mike Sugamosto took full advantage and took an open 3-pointer with nine seconds left. He made it, sending the game to a second OT – — at the same OCC venue where Skaneateles lost to Marcellus in a double-OT game a month ago.
Without Roberts or O’Donnell to stop him, Sugamosto took over in the second OT, getting six of Grimes’ first eight points in that frame. When the Lakers tried to rally once more, Stone used a pair of free throws with two seconds left to clinch it.
All told, Sugamosto had a triple-double of 23 points, 17 rebounds and 10 blocks, while Stone earned 22 points. Roberts and O’Donnell had to be good because Kevin Rice, who finished with 13 points, never quite got on track as Zach Brownlee added seven points and Brandon Barron picked up six points.
Skaneateles finished 16-5, and three of those losses were to Grimes. With only Tom Schoener and Kyle McQuiggan departing, the Lakers will be a heavy championship favorite in 2010-11 as long as Rice, Roberts, O’Donnell, Brownlee and Barron stay around.
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