Feb 16, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
One quarter of basketball is not enough time to decide many contests, particularly in the post-season, but that’s exactly what happened when Cazenovia’s boys hosted South Jefferson in Saturday night’s opening round of the Section III Class B playoffs at Buckley Gym.
During those all-important first eight minutes, the no. 5 seed Lakers were close to perfect, producing plenty of baskets and, shockingly, shutting out the no. 12 seed Spartans on the defensive end, setting the stage for a 61-24 romp.
To be sure, Cazenovia was eager to get the sectional tournament started after a 14-4 regular season. Drawing the no. 5 seed proved advantageous because, in South Jefferson, it had an opponent who had only gone 8-10 against much less imposing competition in the Frontier League than what the Lakers had faced.
Perhaps the worst thing that could have happened to the Spartans was the late-week snowstorm that caused a one-day postponement, for it gave Cazenovia (who had played four times in six days the week before) an extra 24 hours to rest and get reenergized.
And that energy was evident from the moment it tipped off. The Lakers’ defense forced South Jefferson into a full game’s worth of mistakes in the first quarter alone, and nearly every one of them led to baskets on the other end.
By the time that first quarter was done, the scoreboard read 22-0 in Cazenovia’s favor. Stunned, the Spartans finally did get on the board in the second period, but didn’t add much to it and trailed, 38-11, at halftime.
As if that wasn’t punishment enough, Ross Gerber kicked off the second half with a baseline dunk to fire up the home crowd once again, the Lakers not letting up much as the margin kept growing even after the starters had long departed.
Ten different Cazenovia players hit at least one field goal, with Ryman Seeley leading the way as he earned 16 points, sinking four 3-pointers. Kevin Hospicker chimed in with 13 points, while Gerber and Ryan Henderson had seven points apiece.
For Hopsicker, this came on the heels of earning two big honors stemming from football season.
First, he was named Class B Scholar Athlete of the Year by the New York State High School Football Coaches Association at a dinner Feb. 7 at Turning Stone, less than two weeks after representing the Lakers and speaking at the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Awards Dinner, also at Turning Stone.
Back on the hardwood, Hopsicker and the Lakers face a big task in Tuesday’s Class B quarterfinal as it goes to Syracuse to face no. 4 seed Institute of Technology Central, exactly two weeks after the Eagles beat Cazenovia 52-44 at Buckley Gym.
The winner there could face unbeaten, state no. 1-ranked Westhill in Friday’s semifinals at Onondaga Community College’s Allyn Hall, should the Warriors get past Syracuse Academy of Science in its quarterfinal. The title game is March 1 at the Carrier Dome.
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