Feb 06, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
About the only way that the Cazenovia girls basketball team could make Senior Night more special was to earn a landmark victory – like, say, one over an unbeaten, state Class B no. 2-ranked opponent.
That’s exactly what the Lakers pulled off Tuesday night at Buckley Gym, toppling the Warriors 49-45 with a spirited, determined effort and uncommon poise down the stretch.
“It was the work of a bunch of girls who had the belief that they could win,” said Cazenovia head coach Chris Carpenter.
And it wasn’t like the Lakers (14-2) were a pushover, anyway, having risen to no. 22 in the same state Class B poll. It also remembered, vividly, the missed chances it had when it lost to Westhill 49-39 a month earlier, Carpenter saying his team missed 16 close-up shots in that first meeting.
This time, said senior point guard Kristie Kleine, “we worked a lot harder, and it definitely paid off. It shows that we can play with the best of the best.”
Not right away, though, as the Lakers committed a rash of first-quarter turnovers, Westhill filling up the passing lanes and earning a bunch of steals to grab a 14-6 lead.
The Lakers’ deficit grew as big as nine, 19-10, in the second period, but Cazenovia turned the game around by closing the half on an 11-1 run, with five of the points from Kleine, to lead 23-21 at the break.
Adjusting its defense and taking away the Warriors’ inside game, the Lakers held Westhill without a field goal for more than seven minutes, a stretch that lasted deep into the third quarter.
“Our defense had to crash the boards in order to shut them down,” said senior forward Maggie Carpenter.
Early in the final period, the Lakers were up 37-30 when Westhill stormed back with nine unanswered points in a span of less than a minute to go back in front, 39-37.
Instead of flinching, Cazenovia got big baskets from Kleine and Carpenter. Yet it still looked like the effort might fall short when, with 2:09 left and the game tied 43-43, Kleine missed three consecutive free throws after getting fouled taking a 3-pointer.
Carpenter took over from there, though, hitting a jumper with 1:40 left and, after an exchange of misses, delivering a big basket with 51.6 seconds left that extended the Lakers’ lead to 47-43.
Not giving up, the Warriors cut it to 47-45 on Mary Washburn’s basket with 12.5 seconds left. But Westhill only had three team fouls, and had to spend the majority of the remaining clock chasing Kleine as it picked up four fouls to force the Lakers to the line.
Finally, with 3.4 seconds to play, sophomore guard Audrey Burbidge drew that seventh foul and got a one-and-one opportunity. Only called up from the JV ranks a couple of weeks ago, Burbidge instantly proved her worth and swished both free throws to seal it.
It was Carpenter, with 19 points, and Kleine, with 16 points, carrying Cazenovia’s attack most of the way. Anna Ross paced Westhill with 12 points before fouling out as Sam Peebles and Maggie Tripodi produced 11 points apiece.
Happy as the Lakers were, it turned quick attention to Thursday’s game at Solvay. Almost by herself, Carpenter helped Cazenovia avoid a letdown as it pulled away late from the stubborn Bearcats and prevailed 56-44.
Though it led 16-6 after one period, the Lakers watched Solvay stay within sight thanks to work by Taylor Guinta (13 points), Chelsie Delperuto (12 points) and Nicole Antonacci (eight points), as it only trailed 39-32 going to the final period.
However, Carpenter, from the start, was going to make sure the Lakers won this contest. Pulling down rebounds and fighting her way inside for easy baskets, Carpenter set a new career mark with 34 points, hitting on 15 of her team’s 24 field goals.
That covered up for a struggle from Kleine, who only managed five points. Once again, though, Burbidge pulled through, hitting on three 3-pointers to account for all of her nine points.
All that remains for the 15-2 Lakers in the regular season is to go to Skaneateles on Monday and then await next Wednesday’s announcement of the Section III Class B playoff match-ups.