All the suspense over whether the Solvay boys basketball team would make the Section III Class B playoffs came down to the final moments of the regular season.
And if it's any hint of what might follow, the Bearcats might be up to something surprising - for it clinched that playoff berth Friday night by beating Hannibal 68-54.
This gave Solvay an 8-10 overall record and a 7-9 mark within the OHSL Liberty division. Anything less, and the Bearcats would have sat out the post-season.
Knowing the stakes, Solvay took it right to Hannibal, seizing a 19-11 lead by the end of the first quarter. Over the next two periods, the margin kept growing until, in the final period, the Bearcats had a 53-38 edge and were safe and sound.
Again, much of the offense came from two sources. Center Dan Aiello finished with 20 points, eight of them free throws, while guard Deon Knighton-Kearse poured in 19 points, including three 3-pointers. Chuck St. Andrew added nine points.
The Bearcats kept that playoff dream going by paying a visit to Cazenovia last Tuesday night and earning a 60-46 victory over the Lakers.
Cazenovia was out of post-season contention, but still took an early 11-10 lead. Solvay turned it around with 19 second-quarter points, then outscored the Lakers in the remaining two periods by making a steady parade to the foul line.
Hacked often, Aiello made the Lakers pay for it as he got 12 of his 20 points at the free-throw line. The same was true with Knighton-Kearse, who notched 16 points, six of them at the line, as St. Andrew finished with 10 points and John Savo added six points. For the Lakers, only Travis Mimms, with 10 points, hit double figures.
Meanwhile, the Solvay girls team would split its remaining two games, starting last Tuesday with a hard-fought 47-39 loss to undefeated Cazenovia.