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Caz boys basketball takes first defeat to Phoenix

Lakers recover with strong win over J-E

Junior guard Kevin Hopsicker rises above a J-E opponent and attempts a three-point shot. Hopsicker finished the night with a total of 19 points.

Junior guard Kevin Hopsicker rises above a J-E opponent and attempts a three-point shot. Hopsicker finished the night with a total of 19 points. Photo by Pierce Smith.

Wins in each of its first two games had quickly propelled the Cazenovia boys basketball team to the top in the OHSL Liberty American division.

But the Lakers’ brief win streak would halt at Phoenix last Tuesday night as the Firebirds continued its surprising start by rallying in the second half to top Cazenovia 65-56.

Just 3-15 a season ago before moving down from the OHSL Freedom division, Phoenix had also started 2-0 this winter, but Cazenovia played a strong first half against the Firebirds, steadily working its way to a 30-25 lead.

But with a balanced attack and improved defensive effort, Phoenix caught up in the third quarter and inched in front, 43-42. All through the stretch, the Firebirds’s balance and ability to make late free throws helped them prevail.

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Junior guard Andrew Vogl (2) maneuvers around a Jordan-Elbridge defender and attempts a layup while junior forward Henry Mann (52) readies for a rebound during the Dec. 14 game at Cazenovia High School’s Buckley Gymnasium.

Cazenovia’s Andrew Vogl led both sides with 15 points, with Kevin Hopsicker (11 points) close behind. Ryman Seeley, so hot from the outside in those first two wins, had just eight points this time as Henry Mann got seven points and Matt Bonavita added six points.

Phoenix, meanwhile, saw Dylan Doupe and Avery Chisolm each finish with 12 points, while Chris Vaverchak (11 points) and Kyle Huniford (10 points) also reached double figures.

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Junior guard Ryman Seeley pulls down an defensive rebound during the Dec. 14 match against the Jordan-Elbridge, which the Lakers won 62-39. Seeley did well, and finished the game with a total of 11 points.

Back home at Buckley Gym on Friday night, the Lakers faced Jordan-Elbridge, and while the Eagles are improved from seasons past, it still couldn’t solve Cazenovia’s defensive riddle as the hosts prevailed by a 62-39 margin.

It was steady, relentless work during the first half, the Lakers slowly taking control and going to the break with a 31-20 edge. But the shots really started to fall during a 21-7 third-quarter surge, from which the Eagles could not recover.

Hopsicker had his best night of the season, pouring in 19 points. Defenders couldn’t concentrate on him because Seeley, with 11 points, and Rob Malmsheimer, with 10 points, both hit on a pair of 3-pointers. Vogl and Matt Bonavita had six points apiece.

Having improved to 3-1, the Lakers look ahead to a key game next Friday at Skaneateles, which follows Tuesday’s visit from Hannibal.

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