Were it not for the rival down the road, the Skaneateles girls basketball team might have breezed into the Section III Class B playoffs. Instead, it had to go to the last game of the season to fight its way into the tournament.
For the second time this season, the Lakers could not get a handle on Marcellus, falling to the Mustangs 67-52 last Wednesday night even as it was finally returning to full strength.
A month ago, Jackie Leslie, at the time the Lakers' leading scorer, broke her finger. It had healed in time for Leslie to return to the lineup for this rematch with Marcellus - who had beaten Skaneateles (without Leslie) 49-33 back on Jan. 11 at Onondaga Community College.
Yet the Mustangs, treating this game like it was a playoff encounter (since it wasn't going to the post-season), still jumped all over Skaneateles in a nightmarish first half. By the time it was done, the Lakers were down 42-18, and it could not fully recover.
Leslie had a fine return, posting 10 points to lead Skaneateles as Emily Call, Elizabeth Lane and Mary Buck each posted eight points. Three Marcellus players topped them, though, as Melissa Lee got 16 points, Emily Brissette 14 points (including four 3-pointers) and Jessie Nye 13 points.
So the remaining formula was simple - win, or miss the playoffs. That win was accomplished Friday night as Skaneateles fought past Bishop Grimes 50-46.
Topping the Cobras required a 32-minute effort. The Lakers trailed 14-12 after one period, but fought back to grab a 24-23 halftime advantage. All through the remaining two periods, the Cobras, led by Amelia Heiselman's 16 points (mostly from five 3-pointers), stayed right with the Lakers.
That Skaneateles would pull it out was a tribute to hard work from everyone involved - including Ashley Sheldon, who led with 12 points. Lane bounced back to produce 11 points, while Erin Tonzi got nine points and Leslie got all six of her points from a pair of 3-pointers.
When the Class B tournament pairings were announced on Sunday, Skaneateles found itself with the no. 10 seed in a 13-team field. The Lakers will visit Dexter and play no. 7 seed General Brown in Tuesday night's opening round, with the winner to get no. 2 seed Cazenovia in the quarterfinals later this week.