Cazenovia For long stretches of Saturday night's Section III Class B opening-round playoff game, there was real concern that the Cazenovia girls basketball team was headed toward a stunning and premature exit.
But thanks to the senior talents of Maggie Carpenter and Kristie Kleine, the no. 4 seed Lakers shook off its troubles and eliminated no. 13 seed Bishop Ludden 50-40 at Buckley Gym.
Even with a 16-2 record and no. 13 state Class B ranking, Cazenovia was wary of Ludden, mainly due to the familiarity the two had with each other from a Jan. 10 meeting that the Lakers took 50-30.
Here, Kleine did not start, and the Lakers' offense suffered for it throughout the first quarter. Without her main passing partner, Carpenter was shut out, too, and Ludden, getting a trio of 3-pointers (two of them by Kelly Granteed), gained a 10-3 lead.
And the Lakers were lucky that it wasn't worse, because the Gaelic Knights missed its first seven free throws in that period and would go seven-for-21 overall at the line. Thus, it could not exploit the two early fouls on Carpenter, and that proved costly.
For when Kleine entered the game in the second quarter, everything changed. Cazenovia's defensive pressure really started to take hold, and inside Carpenter and reserve forward Maggie Johnson dominated on the boards, getting extra chances as part of an 11-2 run.
Ludden didn't go away, though. Trailing 20-16 at halftime, the Gaelic Knights again took advantage of Kleine's absence as Granteed hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Sara Hayes hit a runner to open the third quarter.
Now it was Cazenovia that trailed, 24-20, but again Kleine returned - and again, the Lakers took off, this time on a 13-2 run to move in front for good. Carpenter got it going with three consecutive baskets, and Kleine capped it off with a long 3-pointer.