With a new year came a chance for both the Cazenovia and Chittenango boys basketball teams to build some momentum after the Lakers claimed a Dec. 20 thriller over the Bears.
And it could not have gone better for the Lakers when, after a two-week hiatus, it hosted Mexico last Friday night at Buckley Gym and pulled out a tense 47-45 decision over the Tigers.
Mexico arrived at this game with an 8-1 record and the top spot in the OHSL Liberty American division, but Cazenovia didn’t care much for this, limiting the Tigers to five points in the first quarter as it went out in front.
By halftime, though, Mexico had tied it, 21-21, setting up a second half where again, the Lakers would go out in front and, again, the Tigers would not let them get away.
Up 44-39 late in the fourth quarter, Cazenovia went cold, and Mexico caught up at 45-45. With 34.7 seconds left, Drew Johnson was fouled and he sank both free throws to put the Lakers back in front.
Now the Cazenovia defense had to make two more stops. It got one of them, only to turn it over with a traveling call, setting up one more Tigers chance, and it hit a winning 3-pointer – but only after the horn sounded.
Johnson’s clutch foul shots were part of an 18-point effort as Ryan Romagnoli hit three 3-pointers on his way to 12 points. Ty Freyer added eight points as Will Ruby (16 points), Noah Hiller (11 points) and Josh Haddock (10 points) led Mexico.
Chittenango needed something positive to happen in the opening days of 2019, and got it last Wednesday at Homer, roaring out to a 29-11 first-quarter lead behind a string of 3-pointers from Noah Schnauffer.
Eventually, the Bears prevailed 64-41 over Homer as, even when it cooled down from its hot early shooting, it continued to clamp down on defense, never letting the Trojans make a sustained run.
Schnauffer had a career day, finishing with eight 3-pointers to account for most of his 26 points. Paul Wood helped with 19 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Two days later, Chittenango visited Jordan-Elbridge, where things went in the other direction as the Eagles, led by senior guard Jeremiah Sparks, put away the Bears 73-49.
J-E, like Cazenovia, was coming back from a two-week hiatus, and jumped all over Chittenango, leading 24-10 after one period and then adding to that margin with a 20-5 run through the third quarter.
All the while, the Bears could do little about Sparks, who poured in 36 points, mostly from 15 field goals. Mitch Holt helped Sparks with 11 points, a key factor because, for Chittenango, Wood again had a big night, with 29 points, but no one else hit double figures as Schnauffer was held to six points.
Having dipped to 3-6 overall, the Bears would host Altmar-Parish-Williamstown Monday and go to CBA Tuesday before a Thursday trip to Marcellus.
Cazenovia, meanwhile, took a 6-4 record into this week, where it would host Institute of Technology Central on Wednesday and visit Phoenix Friday night.