Mar 06, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
What the Cazenovia girls basketball team displayed in the first half of Sunday’s Section III Class B championship game against Utica-Notre Dame was nowhere near the top form that had produced a 19-1 record leading up to the title game.
“We made silly passes and bad shots,” said head coach Steve Miles. “That’s not how we play.”
But the second half of action at Utica Memorial Auditorium brought a return to what the Lakers consider normalcy – and the end result was a third sectional title in four years as it zoomed past the Jugglers 51-42.
Everything suddenly worked, from an aggressive offense that mostly relied on the production of seniors Ellen Burr and Raeanne Clabeaux to a defense that, anchored by Ashley Stec, Colleen Dougherty, Taylor Malmsheimer and Maggie Carpenter, frustrated UND into the same mistakes Cazenovia made early on.
Going in, the Lakers knew the key to UND’s success was the way freshman Emily Durr could produce baskets from anywhere on the court. Yet Durr did just that in the first two periods, earning 14 points as, at one point, the no. 5 seed Jugglers led by as much as nine.
With its own offense sputtering (and Stec and Dougherty both picking up three early fouls), Cazenovia needed someone to keep them afloat – and it turned out to be Burr. In an echo of her heroics in leading the field hockey Lakers to a state championship last fall, Burr got 10 points in the first two periods, more than half her team’s total as it stayed within touch despite all of its struggles.
“Ellen has great post moves, and she can finish,” said Miles.
Down 22-16 at the break, the Lakers did little to change its defensive set-up. Instead, it clamped down in the familiar 2-3 zone and, with each player taking turns tracking Durr, held the rising UND star to just one field goal the rest of the way.
“We had to pick it up, and we did a better job communicating where (Emily) was at all times,” said Clabeaux.
Meanwhile, Burr stayed hot, with five points early in the third quarter, then ceded to Clabeaux, another field hockey state championship alumnus, who hit on six straight points that pushed the Lakers ahead 27-25 and capped off an 11-2 run. Overall, Cazenovia outscored the Jugglers 19-7 in that period, capped by big 3-pointer from Malmsheimer.
Midway through the final period, when UND cut the gap to 41-38, Burr and Clabeaux struck again with back-to-back baskets, and it was Clabeaux offering the steal and lay-up with less than a minute left that made the score 49-40 and sealed a sectional championship.
Burr, named the sectional tournament MVP, finished with 22 points, close to her season high, and Clabeaux notched 14 of her 17 points in the second half. Miles said the pair’s successful experiences last fall in field hockey kept them calm in this pressure situation.
“That (experience) has to carry over,” he said. “They know how to win.”
And this particular win sends Cazenovia to Saturday’s Class B regional final against Section IV champion Oneonta, which will start at 5 p.m. at Liverpool High School. Oneonta beat the Lakers in this same regional round in 2009 and again stand in the way of a possible first trip to the state Class B final four March 18-20 at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy.