Bishop Grimes' boys basketball team was determined to see its talented senior class exit the stage with a Section III Class B championship.
The fact that the Cobras did not could mostly be traced to how one opponent - Skaneateles - kept turning them back, with more emphasis each time.
It all climaxed Tuesday night at Onondaga Community College when the no. 5 seed Cobras fell to the top-seeded Lakers 69-39, a game defined mostly by the way Skaneateles defended Mike Stone in what proved to be Stone's last high school game.
Remarkably, Stone did not make a single field goal, all of his four points coming at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. It was a stark contrast to the 22 points per game Stone had averaged during the winter.
Blame - or credit - could largely fall to Skaneateles senior guard Mike Richards. Having held Stone to 16 points when the Lakers beat Grimes 73-42 in the Feb. 18 regular-season finale, Richards was back on Stone's case in this playoff encounter.
Skaneateles also remembered how the Cobras had beaten them in double overtime on this same OCC court in this same semifinal round a year ago, and were bent on not letting that happen again.
Grimes faced full-court pressure right from the start. At first, the Cobras handled it, shuttling the ball inside to Mike Sugamosto, who notched 16 first-half points.
Gradually, though, the pressure took a toll, especially on Stone. Everywhere he went, Richards followed, and any time he got the ball someone else joined in for a double-team, whether it was Kevin Rice, Brandon Barron or Jimmy Atkinson. Stone just took just two shots in the first half, missing them both.
Meanwhile, the Lakers didn't suffer when its star center, Pat Roberts, went to the bench with two fouls early in the second quarter. Instead, it closed the half on a 16-5 run, capped by Paul O'Donnell hitting a banked-in 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to make it 39-23. It didn't help, either, that Connor Sohl went out for a time with a leg injury
With Stone smothered and fellow guard Casey Evans getting even less room to operate, Grimes never could put together any kind of run in the second half to chip into the Lakers' margin, and instead watched it spin out of control. Rice and Roberts led Skaneateles with 18 points apiece as O'Donnell added 11 points.
So the Cobras' season ended with a 14-7 mark as Stone, Sugamosto, Sohl, Mike Timpano and Will Commisso depart. Evans leads a solid returning class that includes Gai Ater, Steve Lembo and Jon Carnegie, but a lot of offense will need to be replaced.