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Skaneateles boys hoops stops Cazenovia

Eppolito's late surge helps Lakers to fifth straight win

Skaneateles guard Alex Brownlee (3) goes up for a shot, closely guarded by Cazenovia’s Jeff Dewan (4), in last Friday's game, won by Skaneateles 52-40.

Skaneateles guard Alex Brownlee (3) goes up for a shot, closely guarded by Cazenovia’s Jeff Dewan (4), in last Friday's game, won by Skaneateles 52-40. Bob Atkinson

— 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.

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