Dec 22, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
A near-perfect start and near-perfect finish helped the Skaneateles boys basketball team cover up all the ugly stuff in between.
By topping Cazenovia 52-40 Friday night in the latest clash of Laker sides, Skaneateles won its fifth consecutive game, making the team’s 0-2 start seem like it happened months, and not weeks, ago.
Arriving in Skaneateles with a 5-1 record, Cazenovia had a chance to seize total control in the OHSL Liberty division going into a two-week holiday break.
Instead, the visitors never got on the board until Skaneateles had dialed up an 11-0 lead in the game’s first four minutes. Junior forward Austin Gardner sparked the host Lakers as he scored six of those 11 points, with Ben Eppolito contributing a 3-pointer.
At one point early in the second quarter, Cazenovia trailed 23-5, having seen its half-court offense sputter in the face of constant Skaneateles pressure and a lot of missed shots.
But when Gardner went to the bench with two early fouls, Cazenovia began to regroup. Led by Kevin Hopsicker and Andrew Vogl, the visiting Lakers went on a 10-0 run late in the half, and got a 3-pointer from Ross Gerber just before the horn, trimming the Skaneateles margin to 28-18 at halftime.
That momentum spilled over into the third quarter. Now it was Skaneateles slumping, unable to do much with Gardner seeing long periods on the bench due to his four fouls. With a 12-2 run to close the period, Cazenovia moved within three, 33-30, and it was getting little from its potent sixth man, Ryman Seeley, who would foul out with just seven points.
Not until the fourth quarter did Skaneateles come back to life on the offensive end. Having seen the margin shrink to two, 35-33, at one point, the host Lakers began to move the ball with more efficiency after a rash of turnovers had slowed both sides up.
It was Alex Brownlee’s 3-pointer with 5:09 left that sparked the decisive 15-5 run. Then Conor Herr drilled one from beyond the arc, and Eppolito returned to make another key 3-pointer, part of a big final flurry.
Eppolito, who changed his jersey from 2 to 15 because blood spilled on it earlier in the game, had 10 of his game-high 18 points in the final period. Gardner still managed 11 rebounds in his limited minutes. Chris Knupp had seven points, with Brownlee adding six points.
In defeat, Hopsicker (13 points) and Vogl (10 points) both reached double figures for Cazenovia, who now rests for two weeks before resuming action Jan. 4 against Institute of Technology Central.
Meanwhile, Skaneateles will get a second clash with another main rival, Marcellus, next Thursday at 7 p.m., a rematch of the Tip-off Classic game at the Carrier Dome Dec. 9 that the Lakers claimed 59-41 to begin it five-game win streak.