Feb 19, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
For all the fast-paced intensity of Saturday night’s Section III Class B boys basketball quarterfinal between Bishop Grimes and Skaneateles, the game turned on what took place when everything stopped.
The no. 3 seed Cobras’ ability to consistently covert at the free-throw line, and the Lakers’ immense struggles at that same charity stripe, had much to do with Grimes prevailing by a score of 61-53.
Previous meetings offered a backdrop to this playoff match. Grimes had beaten Skaneateles 66-48 on Jan. 17, though that came without the Lakers’ second-leading scorer, Jimmy Atkinson, on the floor due to an ankle injury.
Much more pertinent was the fact that these two teams had met in the sectional semifinals each of the last two seasons, Grimes prevailing 70-66 in double overtime in 2010, Skaneateles coming out on top 69-39 a year later.
So now they played a round earlier, and the Cobras started with much more energy than the visiting Lakers, leading through the entire first half and building the margin to 27-14 at one point.
Only the work of Atkinson, who had 10 first-half points, kept Skaneateles within range, and though it led 32-23 at the break, Grimes had to be concerned that it hadn’t put things away.
Sure enough, Skaneateles sprung to life in the third quarter, going on a 15-4 run, six of the points from Kyle McQuiggan. It was capped by Atkinson’s 3-pointer that tied the game at 41-41 in the last minute of the period.
Yet the seeds for the Lakers’ doom were sown in this period, too. Skaneateles used aggressive play to earn 10 trips to the free-throw line, but only made two of the foul shots, some of them well off target.
Thus, even when Skaneateles seized brief leads of 44-43 and 48-47 early in the fourth quarter, it left itself vulnerable when Grimes started to push back. The fact that the Lakers, due to defensive pressure, were forced to use all of their time-outs did not help them, either.
Though the Cobras rarely hit field goals down the stretch, it kept forcing fouls. Just as important, it converted on the line, 16 times in 19 attempts, and by game’s end five Grimes players had scored in double figures.
Jon Carnegie led with 15 points, while Steve Lembo and Gai Ater each managed 13 points. Eisa Adam earned seven of his 11 points in the final period, while Casey Evans put up 10 points.
Atkinson led Skaneateles with 14 points. McQuiggan had 12 points and Brandon Barron put up 11 points, though both of them would foul out in the closing minutes.
Grimes now faces no. 15 seed Vernon-Verona-Sherrill in the Class B semifinals Wednesday at Cicero-North Syracuse, this after the Red Devils knocked off no. 2 seed South Jefferson and no. 7 seed General Brown on the road. The winner here will play Bishop Ludden or Marcellus March 4 in the Carrier Dome for the sectional title.
Skaneateles, meanwhile, ends its season at 13-7, knowing that three key seniors – Barron, Atkinson and McQuiggan – will depart. More will be expected of the likes of Ben Eppolito, Alex Brownlee, Luke Drancsak and Austin Gardner next winter.