SYRACUSE Choose the style of play, and the Cazenovia boys basketball team is capable of handling it.
Whether it was a fast-paced, high-scoring first half or a slower defensive grind in the second half, the Lakers handled both scenarios and defeated Bishop Grimes, 63-53, Sunday night in the Pathfinder Bank Zebra Classic at Onondaga Community College's Allyn Hall.
Cazenovia had not played since its last-second, 58-55 defeat to unbeaten, state Class B no. 2-ranked Westhill, a game that, even though it snapped a seven-game win streak, solidified the Lakers' status as a Class B title contender.
Now it faced a 6-5 Grimes team that was welcoming back its leading scorer, Tom Steinberg, after he had missed a month of action due to an ankle injury.
Working hard inside, Steinberg had 14 first-half points, which was needed to keep his team close. Cazenovia led from the outset, as all five starters got at least two points in the first quarter.
Up 17-15 going to the second period, the Lakers started to light it up, connecting on five 3-pointers in that frame - two each from Ross Gerber and Ryan Henderson, and another from Ryman Seeley. That helped Cazenovia extend its margin to 39-31 going into halftime.
When the game slowed down in the third quarter and Grimes tried to catch up, the Lakers turned to its defense, who held the Cobras without a field goal for more than nine minutes, which more than made up for its own offensive struggles.
Then, after A.C. Ater made a 3-pointer to break that field-goal drought with 4:50 left to cut the margin to 50-46, the Lakers again clamped down, keeping the Cobras from a field goal until the waning seconds as it used a series of free throws to seal it. Steinberg was limited to a single free throw in the second half.