Skaneateles Even before 2011 would end, the Cazenovia boys basketball team had a chance to really announce its presence as an OHSL Liberty division and Section III Class B title contender.
Step one in that process was taken last Tuesday night, at Skaneateles, where a tense battle of Laker teams spilled into overtime before Cazenovia pulled out a 57-55 victory to move to 4-0 on the season.
Through a low-scoring first half, Cazenovia was effective on the defensive side, yet still trailed 22-18 going into the break before it took off on an 11-4 run early in the third quarter.
Immediately, Skaneateles answered, and inched back in front 37-34 going into the final period. Here, it would continue to go back and forth, neither side gaining any kind of lead and Cazenovia getting fortunate as Skaneateles missed six of nine free-throw attempts.
Yet just when Cazenovia, up 48-46, appeared to have it won in regulation, Skaneateles guard Austin Gardner forced a turnover and fed it to Brandon Barron, whose basket tied it, 48-48, so it would go to a four-minute OT period.
Here, the tense exchange continued, Cazenovia reclaiming the lead in the OT, but unable to get clear. In fact, it led by two, again, and Skaneateles again had the ball in the waning seconds, but this time Barron’s shot went off the rim, and the clock ran out.
From an offensive standpoint, Oliver Gates and Kevin Hopsicker led the visitors’ efforts. Gates set a career mark with 19 points, including five important free throws, while Hopsicker gained 15 points.
Andrew Vogl had eight points, with Chad Warren contributing seven points and Tanner Whiteman adding six points. Barron led Skaneateles with 22 points as Jimmy Atkinson (12 points) and Gardner (10 points) also hit double figures.
This led to a bigger road test Friday, at Bishop Ludden. Here, finally, the Lakers stumbled, unable to counteract the Gaelic Knights’ furious opening surge in a 60-42 defeat.