Feb 14, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Less than one quarter remained last Monday night at Buckley Gym, and the Cazenovia girls basketball team trailed Westhill by seven points, its chance at an undefeated regular season sinking.
But with a stepped-up defense and clutch shooting, both in the field and at the free-throw line, the Lakers roared back in the waning minutes and pulled out a 49-42 victory over the Warriors to improve to 13-0.
Cazenovia, the state’s no. 10 Class B team, was on the court for the first time in 11 days, starting a stretch that, over the ensuing 11 days, it would play six times, culminating in a Feb. 17 showdown with Jordan-Elbridge.
This home game with Westhill was supposed to open the season way back on Dec. 8, but had twice been pushed back by weather. In the meantime, they had first played on the Warriors’ home court Jan. 18, and Cazenovia trailed at halftime before holding Westhill to eight points in the second half and winning 41-32.
Defense would also play a critical role in the rematch. At one point in the first half, the Lakers, mixing both man-to-man and zone looks, held the Warriors without a field goal for more than 10 minutes. That, plus eight points from Raeanne Clabeaux and seven points from Ashley Stec, helped Cazenovia grab a 22-13 halftime lead.
All that changed in the third quarter, though. Westhill stepped up its tempo on both ends, and started to convert baskets from a wide variety of players, led by Anna Ross, who had seven of her 15 points in that frame. All told, the Warriors outscored the Lakers 23-10 in that frame.
It appeared to get worse when, with 6:56 left, Westhill’s Maggie Tripodi sank a 3-pointer, putting Cazenovia behind 41-34. But the Warriors would convert just one free throw the rest of the night.
Gradually, the Lakers’ defense took over again, wearing down the Warriors. It helped that Westhill’s leading scorer, Ashley Cianfriglia, could not hit her shots all night, managing just eight points and two field goals.
Meanwhile, Clabeaux, playing with four fouls (as was teammate Ellen Burr), sank six consecutive free throws as Cazenovia tied it, 42-42. Then Stec and Burr hit on three straight baskets, Stec locking it up with a 15-foot jumper with 20 seconds left. All told, Clabeaux put up 15 points, with Stec contributing 13 points and Burr earning 12 points.
Two nights later, Cazenovia went to Hannibal and made it 14-0, dismissing the Warriors 54-27. Steadily, the Lakers built a 29-10 halftime edge and maintained that stout defense the rest of the way, even with a comfortable margin.
Stec, with 12 points, led a deep and balanced effort on the offensive side. Maggie Carpeneter stepped up, earning nine points as Burr and Colleen Dougherty each got eight points. Clabeaux and point guard Taylor Malmsheimer picked up six points apiece.
Friday brought the Lakers to Senior Night at Buckley Gym, and given that, there was no way that the quartet of seniors involved – Stec, Burr, Clabeaux and Malmsheimer – would lose on this night against Bishop Grimes.
Sure enough, the Lakers bashed the Cobras 59-34, but not without some early stress. Perhaps distracted by all the Senior Night hoopla, Cazenovia only led 10-6 through one period, but steadily added to the margin through the next two periods, then closed with a 20-7 surge in the fourth quarter.
And the seniors led the way, as usual. Burr improved to 20 points, with Stec adding 13 points and Clabeaux producing nine points. Carpenter helped out with eight points.
All this leads to the trio of remaining road games – trips to Marcellus and Solvay and, finally, the rematch with Jordan-Elbridge on Thursday, with Molly Hourigan fully healed from the knee injury she suffered in the Lakers’ 52-39 victory over the Eagles on Jan. 13.