Caz girls hoops beats J-E, Phoenix

A week of staying at home appeared to agree with the Cazenovia girls basketball team as it improved to 9-4 and stayed within sight of the top spot in the OHSL Liberty division.

The key to all this was Tuesday's game against Jordan-Elbridge, a team the Lakers lost to back on Dec. 9. Playing better in the familiar surroundings of Buckley Gym, Cazenovia put together a 42-36 victory over the Eagles.

Neither side started well on the offensive end, but that changed in the second quarter as the Lakers outscored J-E 16-11 and seized the lead.

For the rest of the night, Cazenovia answered every Eagle thrust with one of its own, playing strong, consistent defense along the way.

Ashley Stec, with 12 points, led a balanced Laker attack as guards Taylor Malmsheimer and Raeanne Clabeaux each had 10 points. Ellen Burr added six points. On J-E's side, Liz Caspari and Molly Hourigan put up 11 points apiece.

This led to Thursday's game against Phoenix, a team that had just upended first-place Westhill 39-30 on the same night that Cazenovia was beating J-E.

Cazenovia did not fall into the same trap, instead putting together one of its most complete efforts of the season in a 50-26 romp over the Firebirds.

Mostly, this had to do with the Lakers' defense forcing Phoenix into rushed shots and turnovers, as it never reached double digits in any single quarter.

Steadily, Cazenovia proceeded on the offensive end, gaining a 26-13 lead by halftime, then put things away by going on an 18-4 third-quarter blitz.

At the heart of the Laker attack was strong outside shooting. Cazenovia hit nine 3-pointers, four of them from Stec to account for all of her 12 points. Malsheimer had 14 points, as she and Clabeaux (10 points) both hit on a pair of 3-pointers. Burr and Kristen Romagnoli each finished with seven points.

Cazenovia plays just once this week, visiting Solvay Thursday night before what promises to be a tough regular-season homestretch.

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