January 05, 2008


Last second shot saves CHS

Walrath’s lay-up beats the buzzer and Mexico


Levi Walrath made sure that the Cortland High boys’ basketball team’s effort in its first game in two weeks wasn’t wasted Friday night.
The senior forward drove in from the right side for a lay-up as time expired to give the Purple Tigers a 46-45 victory over visiting Mexico at Shafer Gymnasium.
The winners are now 2-4 in the OHSL Freedom American Division and 5-5 overall, while Mexico, which came on with a three-game winning streak, fell to 1-4 in the league’s National Division and 3-5 overall.
Cortland was on top most of the game, and took a 30-22 lead into the final eight minutes. The visitors, however, scored one more point in the fourth quarter than they had in the first three combined.
“The fourth quarter kills us every game,” CHS coach Mick Lowie said with the hint of a laugh. “This would have been a difficult one to lose, especially since we’d led almost the entire way. We held Mexico to 16 points in the first half but didn’t play defense as well as that would indicate. They were getting open shots and missing them.
“We said at halftime that they weren’t going to shoot 3-pointers that poorly in the second half,” he added. “They were getting the same shots, but they started going in. They hit 3-pointers on their first two possessions of the third and we held them scoreless the rest of the quarter.”
Mexico hit six of its nine treys over the final two quarters, including six in the fourth, but didn’t take its first lead until 1:30 left, forging ahead 40-39 on a 3-pointer by Josh Moore. Cortland junior forward Will Fickenscher then scored to give the hosts the lead back at 41-40, but Dan Lavery’s 3-pointer made it 43-41 Tigers before CHS freshman guard Kevin Shaw answered from long distance to make it 44-43 for CHS in the waning moments.
Mexico then missed the front end of a one-and-one situation but controlled the rebound, Lavery fouled in the act of shooting with seven seconds left and hitting both free throws to give the visitors a 45-44 edge. Lowie then called a timeout.
“There wasn’t any panic in anyone’s face. It was just a matter of ‘Let’s get a shot,’ like when we do it in practice counting down the final seconds,” he said. “We didn’t have a play set up. It seemed like every time we set one up we didn’t execute well.
“We wanted to get the ball to (senior guard) Derek Allen. He penetrated and passed the ball to Will, who squared up and was ready to shoot until a Mexico player got a hand in his face.
“He made a pump fake and found Levi for the lay-up. The ball hung on the rim before going in just before the buzzer sounded. If Mexico had had a timeout, they would have had less than a second to do anything. It was pretty nice execution on our part. I was pretty happy with the way things went for us not having played in two weeks.”
Walrath wound up with a game-high 19 points and a team-high eight rebounds, earning praise from his coach, who noted: “Levi always seems to play well against Mexico/ He had 20-some points against them in the second half of a game as a sophomore. He was very aggressive inside and hit a couple of outside shots as well.
“Kevin, who had that huge 3-pointer in the fourth, had nine points and six rebounds, and (junior forward) Trevor Williamson did a nice job coming off the bench, with nine points and five rebounds,” said Lowie.
Cortland had a 40-35 board advantage. The Purple Tigers also committed a season-low 11 turnovers, Lowie noting that “Our goal is to commit 12 or less turnovers each game.” Allen had five assists and Fickenscher four steals for CHS.
Moore had 14 points and Lavery 12 to pace Mexico.
CORTLAND JVs stayed unbeaten through eight games with a 51-32 victory over Mexico as Walter Alexander led the way with 12 points and Justin Hogan added 11. The Purple Tigers trailed 10-6 after the first quarter and led by just one, 21-20, at halftime before outscoring the visitors 15-5 in the third to take an 11-point lead into the final stanza.
Brett Butler had 12 points as the scoring leader for Mexico, which had nine 3-pointers in the contest and only four field goals from two-point range.

Both Cortland teams visit Syracuse CBA on Tuesday and are at East Syracuse-Minoa this Friday.




National coaching plaudits for Funk

HARTFORD, Conn. — Marathon Central coach Karen Funk received her highest honor to date in her 34-year high school coaching career.
The venerable Funk was named the 2007 Dita/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) High School National Coach of the Year Friday at the 2008 NFHCA Annual Convention & Coaches Clinic in Hartford, Connecticut.
Funk was named the 2007 Dita/NFHCA North Region Coach of the Year in December and that made her one of five finalists for the national award. She is the first Section 4 field hockey coach to be named national _high school coach of the year by the NFHCA.
“I can’t believe it,” said Funk. “This is so unreal. I was standing with four other outstanding coaches. That was an honor in itself and it was such a nice surprise to hear my name announced.
“Everyone has heard of Marathon and our program,” Funk continued. “This will do a lot for the sport of field hockey in our area. It was special to have Tiffany (Marsh) here as well.”
Marsh, the former Olympian player who just completed her first year as head coach of Division I Georgetown, was on hand when Funk received the honor.
Funk, who has 411 career wins, guided the Olympians to a 22-1 record in 2007 and a record eighth New York State title.
“We really were a young team this season,” said Funk. “To win a state title was great. This award really goes beyond anything I would have believed.”
It was special for Marsh, who starred for Funk at Marathon and later was on a Maryland squad that captured an NCAA Division I college title.
“Coach Funk is so deserving of this award,” said Marsh. “She has done so much for Marathon field hockey and I am so proud for her. I jumped out of my seat when her name was announced and it really meant a lot to be here to see her win such an award.”




Red Dragon women survive road scare

POTSDAM — The undefeated and nationally ranked SUNY Cortland women’s basketball team survived an unexpected scare to begin second semester play.
After losing the lead in the latter stages of the second half to host Clarkson University in Friday’s non-conference contest, the Red Dragons recovered down the stretch to pull out a 66-59 victory.
Sophomore forward Jessica Laing had team highs of 19 points, nine rebounds and four steals as Cortland, ranked 16th nationally in the poll, improved to 7-0 on the_ season.
Clarkson, which falls to 2-8, had three players finish in double figures during this upset bid — including the 10 points scored by senior and Cortland High graduate Alicia Chace.
In the season half of this Alumni Gymnasium doubleheader, Cortland men built a 20-point halftime lead and went on to defeat Clarkson 67-44.
Sophomore Will Coston had 17 points and classmate Mike Lewis tossed in 15 as the Red Dragons improved to 7-2.
CORTLAND WOMEN were taking the court for the first time in six weeks and had their hands full with Clarkson.
While team scoring leader Laing led the way, junior guard Maggie Byrne added 13 points and senior Sara Cavanaugh finished with 12 points, six assists, five rebounds and two blocks for Cortland. Junior forward Ali Canale also registered six assists and two blocks in addition to her seven points and junior guard Kristin Ciccone totaled eight points for the winners.
Freshman Katie Goldberg led Clarkson (2-8) with 14 points off the bench, including shooting 4-of-8 from 3-point range. Junior Rachel Whitermore added 11 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks and three steals.
Cortland led 25-15 with 7:51 left in the first half, but Clarkson fought back to within four points, 31-27, at halftime. The host Golden Knights eventually tied the game at 39-39 on a Michelle Reddinger layup with 13:17 left and grabbed their first lead since early in the contest at 46-45 when Chace hit a layup with 9:05 remaining.
The Clarkson lead grew to 48-45 on a Whitermore inside basket  7:37 left, but a Laing lay-up, a Byrne 3-pointer and a Canale jumper gave Cortland a 52-48 advantage with 6:28 left.
The Red Dragons pushed their lead to eight at 60-52 after two Laing free throws with 3:13 left, but Clarkson’s Sierra Noles hit a jumper with 3:02 left and a 3-pointer with 2:02 on the clock and the Golden Knights trailed by only three.
Laing’s two free throws with 1:42 left gave Cortland a five-point edge and Byrne hit a jumper with 1:08 left to extend the lead to seven. Byrne added two free throws in four attempts over the final 43 seconds. Reddinger’s lay-up with nine seconds remaining concluded the scoring.