January 09, 2008


Purple Tigers warm to task


D.J. VanGorder/contributed photo
Cortland High’s Amanda Lawlor fires a shot over Syracuse CBA’s Alex Bersano (10) last night at Shafer Gym. Lawlor scored 17 points as the unbeaten Purple Tigers rolled a 61-42 victory.

A familiar script played itself out in Cortland High’s Shafer Gym Tuesday night.
The CHS girls’ basketball team started out slowly against visiting Syracuse Christian Brother Academy, the two teams tied 10-10 after one quarter, before catching fire in the second.
A 19-7 scoring advantage in that stanza pretty much decided the outcome as the Purple Tigers, the state’s eighth-ranked Class A team, stayed unbeaten with a 61-42 triumph over the state’s 18th-ranked Class AA team.
“We made it close in the first quarter,” said CHS coach Dick Penoyer, his team, despite a number of slow starts this season, now 6-0 in the OHSL Freedom American Division and 11 -0 overall. “The kids were full of adrenaline and excited, and missed some easy shots. Once they settled down in the second quarter, they made those shots. I knew after watching the first quarter that we could beat them, but I don’t think the coaches or the kids expected it to be by that much. I’d seen CBA play, and I expected a shootout to the bitter end.
“We told the kids that we needed to take away their 3-pointers and they did that, only allowing them two in the game. CBA doesn’t have an inside game at all,” added Penoyer. “One key in the third was the fact that Amanda Lawlor, after getting stopped inside, started shooting from outside and hit three 3-pointers in the span of about a minute and a half. That broke CBA’s back.”
Lawlor finished with a team-high 17 points as one of four Purple Tigers to finish in double figures, and also had 11 of the 36 rebounds the winners hauled down. Shannon Finucane had 14 points, six steals and five assists for the hosts, while Deanna Bishop and Fawn Lolar chipped in with 11 points apiece. Bishop also had eight rebounds and Lolar six, while Alena Turturro added five boards.
Penoyer also praised the individual defensive efforts of Lolar (on CBA point guard Sarah Paulus, who scored 10 points), Bishop (on Leanne Ockenden, who did have a game-high 18) and Finucane, who held the Brothers’ Kayla Stroman to five points.
“I’m pleased with the way the kids are playing,” Penoyer said. “They were excited, and knew it would be a fun game to play. We told them that we’ve all been working for three years to get to a game like this. It was a big one, and it will help validate that this is a good team. I think a lot of people thought our win over Jamesville-DeWitt (on the road Dec. 19) was a fluke. It wasn’t.
“The kids are starting to gel as a team and are playing really, really well on offense and defense. Hopefully we can continue to improve.”
The Brothers are now 5-1 in the OHSL Freedom National Division and 7-2 overall. 
CORTLAND JVs defeated CBA 50-32 to improve to 8-1 on the season. The Purple Tigers led by just 23-20 at halftime, but shut the Brothers out in the third quarter while scoring 14 points during those eight minutes to take control of the contest.
“We went back to our half-court trap a little in the third and created some turnovers,” Cortland coach Jamie Brown said. “We had some momentum on our side, because Morgan VanGorder hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give us the halftime lead. That definitely put some wind in our sails.
“Aubrey VanGorder was able to score seven points (of her game-high 17) in the third. She’s really come on strong the last two games, and with Maggie (Brown, the coach’s daughter, who had 13 points) gives us a strong pair of guards. Kaitlyn Drach had her best game of the year inside, grabbing 15 rebounds and scoring eight points.” 
Voorhees led CBA with 12 points.
Cortland’s teams host East Syracuse-Minoa Friday, the JV game slated to start at 5:30 p.m.




Red Dragon women no longer perfect

Sports Editor

Though the first loss of this basketball season was humbling, SUNY Cortland women may wind up better off for the experience.
Talented visitor William Smith put an abrupt halt to the Red Dragons unbeaten ways with a 78-71 victory Tuesday night in a non-conference contest that had a playoff feel to it. It was the kind of flaw-revealing test that is needed preparation for when the Red Dragons resume their bid to repeat as SUNY Athletic Conference champions this weekend.
“We know that we need to get better,” was the senior voice of reason heard from Sara Cavanaugh when asked what lessons could be learned from the loss. The six-foot forward is the lone upperclassmen on a squad that had opened the season with seven straight victories while being ranked the 16th best Division III team in the country.
“It was an eye-opener, and now we know we‘re not perfect,” added Cavanaugh. “Our record was perfect, but we weren’t perfect.”
“We knew we had a lot of things to work on, but sometimes you don’t believe it until there’s an  ‘L,’” added Cortland head coach Jeannette Yeoman of this initial setback.
The Red Dragons fell to a William Smith squad that had all five starters score in double figures. The Herons from Geneva, who were a few votes short from breaking into the latest Division III rankings, are also 7-1 on the season.
Coach Lindsay Drury’s squad is now 3-1 against nationally ranked opponents. They added Cortland to their list of victims, along with 18th ranked George Fox out of Oregon and 21st ranked Medaille from Buffalo. The lone loss to a ranked squad came against 22nd ranked Rochester, the school that knocked the Red Dragons out of the NCAA Tournament in the second round last season.
So Cortland should not be all that discouraged, this Corey Gymnasium outing up for grabs until the late going. Sophomore Jessica Laing had 26 points and 10 rebounds and nearly willed Cortland to victory down the stretch, while Cavanaugh tossed in 17 points to go along with 11 rebounds. Junior Kristen Ciccone added eight points, seven rebounds and four assists, too — the 5-foot-6 guard getting to a handful of offensive rebounds.
But two junctures in the game proved costly for Cortland.
The first came with 3:11 left in the first half with Cortland leading 31-30 in an opening stanza where the lead changed hands eight times. That was when Laing was called for an offensive foul that waved off a made basket, the sophomore banging up her knee in the process. She eventually limped off and sat out the rest of the half, and William Smith would secure a 36-33 lead when intermission arrived.
The second turning point came with just over nine minutes to play when starting point guard Maggie Byrne picked up her fourth personal foul and had to sit a spell on the bench. Though Laing came up with a three-point play moments later to trim a William Smith lead to 52-50, that’s when the Herons went on an 11-3 run that proved decisive.




Olympians squeak by host Lions

DRYDEN — Ben McDonald hit two free throws with eight seconds remaining to give Marathon Central boys a three-point lead and finish off 43-40 Interscholastic Athletic Conference crossover basketball victory at Dryden High School Tuesday night.
In other crossover action, Groton topped Trumansburg 81-46 Elmira Heights Edison edged Elmira Notre Dame 61-51, Moravia stopped Spencer-Van Etten 50-38, Candor clipped Newark Valley 89-64, Newfield nailed Odessa-Montour 67-48, Tioga tripped Southern Cayuga 65-45, Lansing nipped Union Springs 46-42 in overtime and Watkins Glen nipped Waverly 31-30.
In IAC girls crossover action, Dryden dumped Marathon 31-30 in overtime, Trumansburg topped Groton 52-39, Elmira Notre Dame drubbed Elmira Heights Edison 62-19, Southern Cayuga tripped Tioga 51-50, Lansing downed Union Springs 49-24, Newark Valley downed Candor 61-49, Newfield defeated Odessa-Montour 71-53, Waverly whipped Watkins Glen 33-19 and Moravia stomped Spencer-Van Etten 56-36.
Marathon 43, Dryden 40: “It was an ugly game, but still a nice win for us,” said Marathon coach Jim Holland after another strong defensive effort from the Olympians. “Our kids never quit and kept working hard.
“Dryden was relentless,” Holland added. “They kept coming at us and they really took us out of our offense in the fourth quarter.”
Marathon (2-7 IAC, 2-9 overall) grabbed an 18-10 lead in the first quarter and maintained a 27-19 advantage at halftime.
The Olympians increased their margin to 11 points, 39-28, through three quarters before Dryden (4-5, 5-6) rallied in the fourth quarter.
The Purple Lions closed the gap to 41-40 before McDonald hit the two crucial free throws. McDonald and Derrek Root each led the Olympians with 10 points, Stephen Birdsall added eight points and 14 rebounds.
Nick White netted a game-high 12 points for the Purple Lions with Robbie Solveson adding eight points.