Brimming with confidence and a 6-0 record, the Cazenovia girls basketball went to this weekend's Unadilla Valley Tournament hoping to maintain its perfect mark heading into a huge Thursday-night showdown with Westhill.
However, the Lakers ran into a hot opponent in that tournament’s opening round, simply unable to corral Sherburne-Earlville as it took a 70-65 defeat to the Marauders.
From the start, it was clear that the eight-day rest period after its Dec. 20 win over Skaneateles had done something to alter Cazenovia’s defensive rhythm.
S-E got all kinds of baskets, keeping pace with the Lakers in the first quarter and surging in front, 39-34, by halftime. For the rest of the game, the Marauders kept matching everything that Cazenovia did, keeping the visitors from catching up.
Thus, massive efforts by Maggie Carpener, who had 26 points, and Kristie Kleine, whose 24 points included five successful 3-pointers, were squandered. S-E featured Jordan Van Althius and Savannah Irwin earning 18 points apiece as Lilly Berg added 13 points.
Forced into the consolation game against Hancock a day later, the Lakers handled it well, returning to its traditional form and beating the Wildcats by a score of 50-39.
Though Hancock didn’t let Cazenovia get out and run as much as S-E did, the Lakers traded it for reinstating that airtight defense, especially in the second quarter, where it held the Wildcats to just four points and built a 26-13 edge.
That margin grew to 44-25 before Cazenovia eased up in the fourth quarter, but the damage had been rendered. Carpenter continued to play well, pouring in 19 points, while Kleine hit three 3-pointers to account for most of her 13 points. Reserve forward Maggie Johnson chimed in with 10 points.
So the Lakers are 7-1 going to Westhill, where the likes of Carpenter and Kleine will try to keep the Warriors' strong trio of Anna Ross, Maggie Tripodi and Sam Peebles contained in the first of two highly-anticipated regular-season encounters, with the rematch Feb. 5 at Buckley Gym.