Mar 01, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Now that the Cazenovia girls basketball team has atoned for its lone blemish of the 2010-11 season, it stands one victory from a Section III Class B championship.
The no. 2 seed Lakers used a tremendous second-half defensive performance to knock off no. 3 seed Jordan-Elbridge 40-30 in Tuesday night’s Class B semifinal at Onondaga Community College.
This puts Cazenovia into Sunday’s final at Utica Memorial Auditorium, where it will face no. 5 seed Utica-Notre Dame. The Jugglers knocked out Westhill 54-45 in the other semifinal contest.
For the Lakers, no extra motivation was required against J-E. Just 12 days earlier, the Eagles had denied the Lakers a shot at an undefeated regular season in a 50-40 victory where its star center, Molly Hourigan, recorded a triple-double of 20 points, 12 blocks and 10 rebounds.
And things did not proceed smoothly in the first half of this meeting, either. Hourigan, despite picking up two fouls, notched eight points and denied Cazenovia any kind of inside attack. It took timely 3-pointers from Dougherty, Ashley Stec and Taylor Malmsheimer to help the Lakers keep pace.
At the break, the Lakers led 21-20, but faced a big problem as Stec was saddled with three fouls. Yet that, unintentionally, turned the game in the Lakers’ favor, even though it forced Stec to move outside the paint, leaving Burr to handle Hourigan alone.
Burr, as it turned out, was more than up to the task. All through the second half, the senior stood face-up to Hourigan and denied her the ball whenever J-E had possession while, at the same time, Stec and Dougherty anchored the perimeter, shutting down Kali Davis and the rest of the Eagles’ backcourt.
Incredibly, J-E did not score a point in the entire third quarter and, overall, went more than 11 minutes without scoring, and Hourigan picked up her third and fourth fouls, limiting her effectiveness the rest of the way.
Still, the Lakers weren’t safe, as it only led 28-24 midway through the final period before Stec and Burr hit on back-to-back baskets to double the margin. Then, when J-E hung around until the final 30 seconds, Malmsheimer and Dougherty combined to make all six of their free throws to seal it.
Malmsheimer, with 12 points, led the way on the offensive side as Stec, Burr, Dougherty and Raeanne Clabeaux managed seven points apiece. Hourigan led both sides with 15 points, but Davis, who had 23 points in the Eagles’ quarterfinal win over Bishop Ludden, had just four points here.
To beat Utica-Notre Dame on Sunday, Cazenovia will have to provide the same kind of defense against the Jugglers’ freshman star, Emily Durr, who has averaged more than 30 points per game in three playoff wins over Canastota, Ilion and Westhill. Still, Lakers head coach Steve Miles said his team, with four seniors (Burr, Stec, Clabeaux and Malmsheimer) at its core, has the qualities of a champion.
“They carry themselves well, on and off the court, and they’re a special group,” said Miles.