Even with that season-defining overtime win over Skaneateles on Jan. 23 that broke up the other Lakers’ 10-game win streak, the Cazenovia girls basketball team was still two victories short of locking up a Section III playoff berth, and had to work really hard in the last week of January to cut that magic number in half.
The Lakers’ margin for error grew smaller after last Tuesday night’s non-league game against Oswego (made up from a Jan. 3 weather postponement), where the Buccaneers, toughened up by facing Class AA foes all winter, defeated the Lakers 46-24.
If, indeed, Cazenovia was going to suffer a letdown after the all-out effort against Skaneateles, it was against the wrong team. Oswego, despite its 5-8 mark, had pushed AA powers like Cicero-North Syracuse and West Genesee hard in recent weeks.
Now, the Bucs would see that effort rewarded against the Lakers, especially in a first quarter where it tore through Cazenovia’s normally strong defenses and built up a 19-6 edge.
True, Oswego cooled down the rest of the half, allowing the Lakers to close within 23-16. But Cazenovia’s offense almost vanished in the last two periods, managing a grand total of eight points as the Bucs pulled away.
Maggie Johnson, the Lakers’ scoring leader, had just seven points, with Audrey Burbidge and Kelsi Fredericks getting five points apiece. Meanwhile, Oswego saw McKenna Brooks with 10 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and four steals, lead the way as Erica Atkins got 11 points and Marguerite Dillon added nine points.
In Thursday’s non-league game against Cortland, the Lakers went to the wire, just as it had the previous two Thursdays against Fulton and Skaneateles – but this time it went down to defeat, falling 59-54 to the Purple Tigers.
Against the same Cortland side it beat 41-31 back on Dec. 20, Cazenovia’s defense was porous early, leading to a 20-15 first-quarter deficit, but it did start to contain the Purple Tigers in the second period and put up its own surge to take a 30-27 lead to the break.