A Dec. 6 defeat to Marcellus left the Cazenovia girls basketball team looking to bounce back, but a pair of challenging OHSL Liberty division opponents made sure that challenge remained a steep one.
The Lakers hosted Bishop Ludden last Tuesday night at Buckley Gym, and even though it had a chance at the wire, it lost a tough 36-34 decision to the Gaelic Knights.
This was a rematch of last year’s Section III Class B opening-round playoff game, won by Cazenovia 50-40. And it looked like the same result in the early going as the Lakers’ defense clamped down on Ludden, creating an 11-4 first-quarter advantage.
Yet Cazenovia could not sustain that advantage as the Gaelic Knights started to hit shots in the second period, closing the gap to 19-16 by the time they reached the half.
They stayed that way until the fourth quarter, when Ludden, led by Gemma O’Kane and Danielle Rauch (10 points apiece), inched out in front, 35-31, before Maggie Johnson’s basket cut the lead in half, to 35-33, with 1:30 to play.
Ludden made a free throw to get the margin back to three, but the Lakers still had a chance – and with 7.9 seconds left, Audrey Burbidge was fouled taking a three-point shot.
Now the Gaelic Knights took a time-out to try and freeze Burbidge. It seemed to work, as Burbidge only made one of the first two shots, and as the third attempt fell off the rim, Ludden pounced on it and was able to run out the clock.
Burbidge, in defeat, led both sides with 11 points, while Johnson had nine points and Kelsi Fredericks finished with six points.
Now Cazenovia paid a visit to Skaneateles on Thursday night. Though 1-2, those other Lakers were fresh off defeating 3-0 Bishop Grimes 56-43, and had newfound momentum. Plus, it wanted to give head coach Jill Blasi (who coached at Ludden, her alma mater, before going to Skaneateles) her 100th career victory.