Cazenovia What the Cazenovia boys basketball team could not have realized, in the wake of last Tuesday's 52-44 defeat to Institute of Technology Central, was that those struggles would linger to the start of its busy stretch of closing games.
Following a snow postponement of its game with Phoenix on Wednesday night, the Lakers made it up 24 hours later, but once again stumbled, unable to rally from a double-digit deficit in the final seconds and falling to the much-improved Firebirds 57-55.
Once Phoenix went out in front in the first quarter, it would stay there. Throughout the first half, any time the Lakers threatened to catch up, the Firebirds answered, and it managed to hang on and take a 30-28 lead to the break.
Late in the third quarter, Phoenix broke out, extending its lead to as many as 13 as it outscored the Lakers 17-6 in that frame. That cushion would be needed as the Lakers stormed back in the fourth quarter and chipped away, helped by 3-pointers from Kevin Hopsicker and Ryman Seeley.
Still down by four, 56-52, Cazenovia got a three-point play from Seeley with 11.0 seconds left to make it 56-55. Phoenix converted one of the two ensuing free throws, meaning the Lakers could still tie or win it on its last possession, but the Firebirds made the last-second stop.
Hopsicker continued his late-season surge as he led Cazenovia with 19 points. Jake Shaffner stepped up for 11 points, while Seeley had 10 points and Ross Gerber seven points. Phoenix’s Dylan Doupe led both sides with 20 points.
Now desperate to break this two-game skid, Cazenovia hosted Jordan-Elbridge Friday night and did get back in the win column, starting fast and cruising past the Eagles 71-49.
The Lakers wasted little time, bolting to a 16-7 lead in the first quarter and expanding that margin to 43-18 by halftime and 59-28 before it sat the starters in the final period.