With a brutal regular-season homestretch looming, Cazenovia boys basketball head coach Steve Yarnell knew exactly what his team had to do to make the Section III Class B playoffs.
The Lakers were 6-7, but 3-6 within the OHSL Liberty division. To qualify, it had to win two of its last five games -- no mean feat when powers like Marcellus, Skaneateles and Westhill occupy the February slate.
As such, Cazenovia almost had to beat Solvay Friday night at Buckley Gym -- and did so, putting together one of its most impressive efforts of the season to rip the Bearcats 77-56.
Roaring out of the gate, the Lakers led 21-12 after one period, but saw most of that margin erased in the second period as it carried a modest 37-34 lead to the break.
Whatever was done in the locker room sure proved effective -- for the third quarter, and the game, would belong to Cazenovia.
On the defensive end, the Lakers pressured and forced turnovers. And on the other end, those turnovers led to lots of baskets during a 27-7 blitz that decided the outcome.
Tanner Whiteman set a new career mark with 22 points, most of it coming from four 3-pointers. Zack Golden threw in 16 points, while Cody Whiteman earned 10 points and Chris Schaffner got nine points. Each of the 10 Cazenovia players that saw action got at least two points before it was done.
So the Lakers (7-7) now have four chances to gain that playoff clincher, though it will be a heavy underdog against Marcellus, Skaneateles and Westhill before the regular-season finale Feb. 12 against Hannibal.