It was not until the week before Christmas that the Skaneateles boys basketball team would have to travel anywhere for a game.
By the time it did so, the Lakers, buoyed by home-court advantage and featuring a lineup deftly matching experience with newfound talent, had firmly established itself as a league and Section III Class B favorite.
In fact, when the first state Class B rankings of the season were released, Skaneateles was at no. 20, best among teams in the section, and best of all, the honor didn’t cause any lack of focus.
For when the Lakers faced Phoenix last Tuesday night, it again played at its best in the middle stages, erasing an uneven start and giving it cushion against a late Firebirds charge to earn a 58-52 victory.
An early deficit didn’t faze Skaneateles, who went out in front in the second quarter and, with its defense, kept Phoenix in check, limiting them to 16 total points in the second and third periods.
Meanwhile, all of the Lakers’ key players were contributing on the offensive end. Nate Fouts had 17 points, with Keif Timmins emerging as a scoring threat thanks to his 15 points as Jack Canty got 11 points and Tommy Reed had 10 points.
All of them helped Skaneateles withstand a fine road effort on Phoenix’s part. Jack Allen, who passed 1,000 career points earlier this season, had 23 points to pace the Firebirds.
With four straight wins, all against OHSL Liberty division foes, Skaneateles now stepped out of league play to host undefeated, state Class C no. 14-ranked Weedsport on Friday night.
And it turned into a fun, exciting contest, with the Lakers having to withstand all sorts of comeback from the Warriors and hang on to snare a 73-70 victory.
Helped by six points from Canty, Skaneateles led 23-16 after one period, and Canty doubled his total in the second quarter as, for every Weedsport surge, the Lakers provided an answer, taking a 38-31 edge to the break.
The Skaneateles lead grew to double digits in the third quarter, and stood at 60-51 when the period ended, capped by a a long Reed pass that found Andrew Neumann open for a lay-up.
Every basket mattered more when Weedsport began eating into that margin in the fourth quarter. It got down to three before Fouts hit some key free throws to increase the margin, but other misses made it tighter.
When Owen Mabbett hit on back-to-back layups, the Lakers found itself only up by two, 72-70, but it hit a late free throw and got a block on the Warriors’ last possession when a 3-pointer may have forced overtime.
Jack Whirtley hurt Weedsport with his 20 points, with Fouts getting 19 points and Canty 18 points in a well-balanced attack. Neumann added 10 points as Jake Brown (17 points) and Joel Blumer (14 points) led the Warriors.
Only now does Skaneateles head to the road, meeting on Tuesday a Chittenango side it already beat on Nov. 30 before traveling to Institute of Technology Central Thursday night.