Feb 29, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Given the recent struggles of this program, just the fact that the Skaneateles girls basketball team got within a few minutes of a Section III championship was remarkable enough.
Still, the pain of what happened in the last four minutes of the Lakers’ 64-51 defeat to Hannibal in Tuesday night’s Class B-2 final at Liverpool High School could not be easily masked.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Skaneateles led 48-40, and had an open shot to build the margin to double digits, but missed it. Soon after, everything fell apart.
The Warriors’ aggressive play led to a series of free throws, cutting the margin to 48-45. Despite this, head coach Jill Blasi did not use any of her time-outs, saying that it would only lead to further panic among her players.
“I didn’t want the girls to get rattled,” said Blasi.
Rattled or not, the Lakers’ situation got worse when star freshman Elizabeth Lane took an inadvertent slap and her mouth began to bleed, which forced her out of the game with 2:55 left, robbing Skaneateles of its best ball-handler and most consistent outside shooting threat.
As Lane recuperated, Skaneateles still had a 50-47 lead when, seconds after Joanna Dobrovosky hit a pair of free throws, Tayler Sorell drained a 3-pointer from the corner to pull Hannibal even, 50-50.
It was Devin Sorrell’s basket with 1:34 to go that pushed the Warriors ahead for good, 52-50, and from there it was a parade to the foul line. Between them, Tayler Sorell and Karolina Severova made 10 consecutive free throws in the final minute to put the Lakers away.
All told, Hannibal made 16 of its 18 free-throw attempts in that final period, and Sorell led the way, getting 15 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter after Allie Taylor, who finished with 23 points, carried the Warriors’ attack much of the night.
Long before this, it appeared that Skaneateles would repeat the 56-47 and 48-44 victories it achieved over Hannibal early this season.
Twice in the first half, Skaneateles let six-point advantages fritter away, only to go back on top. Joanna Dobrovosky hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter, yet picked up her third foul late in the half, affecting her participation the rest of the night.
Emily Call came to the rescue, as the senior had 11 of her team-high 18 points in the first half. Her 3-pointer as time ran out in the first half pushed the Lakers back in front 28-26 after Severova’s string of three straight baskets briefly gave Hannibal the lead.
Despite this, Blasi said that because her team missed many other chances to convert easy shot opportunities, it kept the Warriors within range.
It was the same in the third quarter, Skaneateles stretching its lead to 39-31, Hannibal rallying to tie it with an 8-0 spurt before Jackie Leslie’s 3-pointer near the end of the period. Rejuvenated, the Lakers used baskets from Leslie and Call to build that eight-point lead that looked so secure.
Hannibal, though, showed its own resilience in the stretch, closing on a 24-3 tear to earn its first-ever sectional crown as Lane missed valuable court time, while Call and Dobrovosky (who finished with 10 points) fouled out.
As the Warriors advanced to face South Jefferson in the overall Class B final at the Carrier Dome Friday, the Lakers dealt with the end of a 12-9 campaign that, in Blasi’s first year at the helm, saw a full-blown program revival.
That will now continue without Call, Leslie and Shannon Byrne. But the presence of Lane, Dobrovosky, Mary Buck and Joanna Dean, among others, means that Skaneateles might now assume the role of annual title contender, and not just an occasional championship push.