When it had to work and scramble to get into the Section III Class B playoffs, the Skaneateles boys basketball team may not have anticipated the way in which the bracket would, at least for one round, work in its favor.
Instead of a strong OHSL Liberty division opponent, the no. 13 seed Lakers drew no. 4 seed Sherburne-Earlville in Friday’s opening round, and despite the unique circumstances, Skaneateles would roll to a 62-47 victory over the Marauders.
If there were concerns for the Lakers going into the sectional tournament, it sprung from two sources. First, the Lakers had not played in 10 days since beating Hannibal 66-51 in its Feb. 7 regular-season finale. Also, there was the matter of the long bus trip to Sherburne-Earlville, a circumstance that can lead to poor play early in the game.
Somehow, Skaneateles was able to combat both problems, making lots of shots early in the game to get ahead of the Marauders to prove it wasn’t rusty and, for the most part, staying with S-E even as it rallied to take a slim 26-25 halftime lead.
The third quarter decided matters. Just as the Marauders tailed off, Skaneateles took off, with the trio of Jake Reed, Ben Delasin and Matt Neumann leading a charge that didn’t stop until the Lakers had outscored S-E 21-5 in those eight minutes.
Reed finished the night with 24 points, half of it from four 3-pointers. Delasin gained 14 points, while Neumann had 10 points, tailed by Justin McClanahan (six points) and Jack Canty (five points). On S-E’s side, only Hunter Lane, with 14 points, scored in double figures.
And this gives Skaneateles a chance to go to Buckley Gym Tuesday night and try to win a decisive Laker battle with no. 5 seed Cazenovia (who won 61-49 over Cazenovia in its opening-round game) in the sectional quarterfinals. The winner would face Westhill or Institute of Technology Central in Saturday’s semifinal at Le Moyne College.