A pair of victories assures that, if nothing else, the Skaneateles boys basketball team will have a winning record in the 2012-13 season.
In OHSL Liberty division play Wednesday night, the Lakers visited Institute of Technology Central’s brand-new gymnasium, and put together a consistent, balanced performance as it defeated the Eagles 65-55.
At no time in the first half did Skaneateles ever put together a long, sustained run. Instead, it just played at a clipped pace, and was tough enough on defense to keep ITC away as it steadily built a 27-22 lead.
As it turned out, the decisive move came in the third quarter, when the Lakers outscored the Eagles 17-10, the benefit coming from the fact that ITC had little idea who was going to hurt them, so they kept on fouling.
Austin Gardner led with 22 points, 11 of them from free throws. It was the same for Collin Jones, who had nine of his 19 points at the line, and Alex Brownlee, who secured nine of 17 points from foul shots. Chris Knupp matched the pattern, scoring seven of 13 points from free throws.
In all, Skaneateles converted 29 free throws, accounting for nearly half of the team’s overall total. ITC saw Rensey Chandler (17 points), Emmanuel Flowers (14 points) and Algernon Torrence (10 points) reach double figures.
Two nights earlier, the Lakers visited Fabius-Pompey, one of the main Class C title contenders, and needed all 32 minutes to scrape past the Falcons 56-55.
Both teams took a while to warm up, but the Lakers fared a bit better, steadily working its way to a 24-21 halftime lead. But it could not put together a stayed run, allowing F-P to hang close.
Still up 36-32 going to the final period, Skaneateles saw the Falcons again threaten, led by Stewart Wright, who poured in 22 points as teammate Mike Vilardi added 12 points.
But the Lakers held on as Gardner earned five of his 15 points in the last two minutes, part of a well-balanced attack. Three others –Jones, Knupp and Brownlee – finished with 10 points apiece, while Bobby Leslie picked up seven points.
These wins over F-P and ITC left the Lakers at 10-4 with two weeks left in the regular season and four games left, none more important than next Friday’s trip to Cazenovia, which follows a home test against Jordan-Elbridge.