A large (20-team) field of boys basketball teams began last week to navigate through the Section III Class B playoffs, with Cazenovia and Chittenango both part of the picture.
The Lakers held the no. 11 seed, meaning that it just avoided a play-in scenario on Thursday night and, on Friday, would travel to face no. 6 seed Sherburne-Earlville in the opening round.
Here, Cazenovia did a lot of things well, including spread its production around – and yet it still wasn’t enough as the Marauders, by a score of 70-61 margin, ended the Lakers’ season.
All through the first half, the two sides exchanged modest runs without either of them pulling away. The Lakers only trailed by three, 34-31, at the break, waiting to see if its trademark defense would ever put things together.
It never did, though. S-E outscored Cazenovia 20-15 in the third quarter, gaining some control, and withstood all of the Lakers’ late comeback attempts, largely thanks to Hunter Lane, who torched the visitors for 35 points.
The irony was that Cazenovia’s scoring balance was as fine as it was all season. Ryan Romagnoli’s four 3-pointers led to 18 points overall as Drew Johnson got 17 points, with Alex Moesch connecting three times beyond the arc on his way to 15 points and Keegan Bailey adding 10 points.
As this went on, Chittenango, holding the no. 9 seed, traveled to no. 8 seed Mexico, knowing that a likely date with top seed Lowville in the quarterfinals awaited the winner.
In this same gym Jan. 28, the Bears had lost 53-49, but now the stakes were higher- and the performance, on Chittenango’s part, was a whole lot better as it gained a 63-49 win over the Tigers to keep its title hopes alive.
What made the result more remarkable was that things did not start well. The Bears trailed, 17-10, after one period, but completely turned it around as hot shooting and strong defense created a 19-7 push through the second quarter.
They were close until the final minutes, when again Chittenango caught fire, not just hitting outside shots, but converting free throws as Paul Wood earned seven of his 24 points at the foul line.
Converting four 3-pointers, Noah Schnauffer had 16 points overall, with Brian Schermerhorn earning nine points. Alex Lum and Vincente Cameron got six points apiece as Will Ruby paced Mexico with 18 points, but no other Tiger scored in double figures.
Lowville’s 79-24 rout of Hannibal meant that, indeed, Chittenango would try and take down the Red Raiders in Tuesday night’s quarterfinal in Turin, the winner to get Westhill or Marcellus in the semifinals Saturday at SRC Arena.
Before all this, Cazenovia had finished its regular season hosting Altmar-Parish-Williamstown last Monday afternoon at Buckley Gym, climbing back to the .500 mark (10-10) by handling the Rebels 52-35.
During a decisive first half, the Lakers held APW to just 10 points, building a sizable margin that grew to 42-25 by the end of the third quarter.
Johnson finished with 19 points, while Bailey got six points. Moesch and Kevin Ammann had five points apiece as no one on the Rebels’ roster had more than the eight points from Wil Corcoran.
As that went on, Chittenango pulled out a 59-58 decision over Oneida, holding on in the final seconds after it had led most of the way to end its regular season at 11-9 and guarantee itself a winning record.
Up 21-13 through one period, the Bears could not keep that torrid pace, but did enough as it got more than half of its production from 11 successful 3-point shots.
Schnauffer had four of them, accounting for all of his 12 points as Wood converted three times beyond the arc on his way to 21 points. Cameron had 10 points, with Schermerhorn and Alex Lum earning six points apiece.