SYRACUSE With one quarter to play in Tuesday night’s Section III Class B quarterfinal, all seemed to be in place for the Cazenovia boys basketball team to move closer to a shot at top seed and state no. 1-ranked Westhill in the next round.
But that fourth quarter would turn against the no. 5 seed Lakers as host Institute of Technology Central roared back and scored 31 points in those final eight minutes, prevailing by a score of 65-56.
Cazenovia and ITC had split their regular-season meetings. The Lakers prevailed 66-55 on Dec. 19, but the Eagles evened things up with a 58-53 triumph at Buckley Gym on Feb. 4 that helped them claim OHSL Liberty National division title.
Rensey Chandler, ITC’s top player, was injured in that second game with Cazenovia, but had returned for the Eagles’ 75-52 opening-round win over Clinton on Feb. 15, which took place as the Lakers were rolling past South Jefferson 61-24.
Determined to end ITC’s 10-game win streak, the Lakers did not get the 22-0 start it enjoyed against South Jefferson, but it did trade the lead with ITC throughout a tight first quarter until back-to-back baskets by James Walker and Algernon Torrence nudged the Eagles in front, 16-12.
Fueled by that, ITC stretched out the lead to nine at one point in the second period, only to have the Lakers respond with four straight points from Andrew Vogl that helped close the gap back to three, 28-25, as they went to halftime.
For much of the third quarter, Cazenovia’s defense took over, holding ITC without a field goal for more than seven minutes as it went on a 10-0 run. Only at the end of the period did the Eagles break that drought as Eric Dickson’s 3-pointer cut the Lakers’ lead to 40-34 with one period left.