CORTLAND — It was just too deep a hole for the Skaneateles Lakers to climb out of.
The Cortland Purple Tigers led by as many as 29 points before the Lakers got within 10 in the fourth quarter, but that would be as close as they would get as the Purple Tigers held on for a 70-57 victory Thursday at Cortland High.
For much of the game, Skaneateles lived and died by the three. In the early going, it was easy to understand why Cortland’s interior defense was absolutely suffocating them. Blocks, rebounds and turnovers led to the Lakers scoring just one field goal in the first quarter, a three-pointer that saw them trail after one, 19-3.
That three-pointer broke up a 12-0 run to start the game, which was immediately met by a 17-0 run between the first and second quarters. The Purple Tigers led 29-3 before the Lakers got their next field goal, and their lead only ballooned to 29 partway through the second.
The Lakers had a late three-pointer before halftime that put only the slightest dent in the Purple Tigers’ lead, but it was the beginning of a 15-0 run that cut their lead to 14 points.
The Purple Tigers were able to get the lead back to 21 points before the Lakers’ full court press and continued hot shooting from deep — as well as finally being able to convert inside — got them within 10 with two minutes left in the game, an envious place to be after where they were earlier.
But by this point, both teams were in the double bonus, and the Purple Tigers hit enough of their free throws to keep victory just out of the Lakers’ reach.
The Purple Tigers (9-6) have now alternated wins and losses in their last four games after going on a three-game winning streak.
It was the last home game for the Purple Tigers and seniors Noah Armstrong, Jaden Fitch, Colter Gohs, Joe Leonard, Alex Musci and Owen Riley.
The Purple Tigers wrap up their season at 2 p.m. Saturday at Homer.