Playing in one of the toughest Class B leagues in the state should, in theory, make the Cazenovia boys basketball team quite a force by the time the post-season rolls around.
But the Lakers could not parlay a solid 2012-13 regular season into any sort of run once the Section III Class B tournament started, as it suffered a 74-60 first-round defeat to OHSL Liberty division rival Syracuse Academy of Science.
Adding to the challenge for head coach Paul Harney was having several of his key players start practices in mid-November after the football Lakers won another sectional title and dropped a heartbreaking decision to eventual state champion Maine-Endwell.
All was ready for the Lakers, though, by the time it visited Solvay in last Tuesday night’s opener. There, Cazenovia fought off a solid effort from the visiting Bearcats to pull away in the final minutes and prevail by a score of 57-46.
Throughout the first half, Solvay kept answering the Lakers’ runs. That led to a 15-15 first-quarter deadlock, and the Bearcats got even again, 34-34, by draining a half-court shot at the halftime horn.
That was Solvay’s last field goal for a while, though, as Cazenovia opened the second half on a 10-0 run, only to see the Bearcats counter again with a 10-0 push of its own to make it 44-44 with one period left.
Both teams were cold early in the fourth quarter, but the Lakers inched in front again, this time for good. Ryman Seeley’s 3-pointer with three minutes left opened up the game as Cazenovia allowed just one field goal in that final period.
Seeley led the Lakers’ attack throughout the night, finishing with 19 points. Otherwise, the scoring was well-balanced, as Ross Gerber managed 11 points, with Kevin Hopsicker (nine points), Ryan Henderson (seven points) and Andrew Vogl (six points) close behind. Cody Pucello, with 18 points, was the only Bearcat to score in double figures.