When the Cazenovia boys basketball team went up against Skaneateles in the annual Laker duel Friday night at Buckley Gym, it did so finding out whether it could recover from a painful defeat.
The answer proved positive, as Cazenovia built a big second-half lead on Skaneateles, and then held on at the end to prevail 64-53, halting a long struggle against its Laker rivals to the west.
Of the last 10 times Cazenovia had faced Skaneateles, only one had gone in Cazenovia’s favor. Thus, it had plenty of motivation, a fact only augmented by the close 63-62 loss it took to Syracuse Academy of Science earlier in the week.
Skaneateles, coming off a 60-50 defeat to Bishop Grimes on Wednesday, wouldn’t make it easy, either at the beginning or end.
They played through a tight first half, Skaneateles generally able to match Cazenovia’s production level despite Ryman Seeley’s nine points. But a key moment came right before halftime.
Clinging to a 24-23 lead, Cazenovia gained some cushion when Kevin Hopsicker drained a 3-pointer, and that, plus a free throw, helped extend the margin to 28-23 going into the break.
As it turned out, that momentum carried Cazenovia through the entire third quarter. Tight man-to-man defense led to Skaneateles turnovers and baskets on the other end, all part of a 25-7 blitz that made the score 52-30, seemingly out of reach.
Except that Skaneateles didn’t give up, even as the deficit grew to 58-36. Stunning the hosts, Skaneateles went on a 17-0 run, moving within 58-53 as Bobby Leslie (a game-high 18 points) and Jake Peterson (11 points) led the rally. But the comeback ended there, as Cazenovia made six of 10 free throws in the final two minutes to finally put things away.
Seeley, with 16 points, and Hopsicker, with 12 points, led a deep and varied attack. Ryan Henderson put up nine points, while Andrew Vogl and Jake Shaffner each got seven points. Keaton Ackermann and Ross Gerber had six points apiece.