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Lakers beaten in double-OT semifinal epic

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.

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