January 11, 2012


CBA pulls away to beat Cortland

Big second half boosts Brothers

BasketballBob Ellis/staff photographer
Kayla Evans of Cortland High puts up a shot over CBA defenders Tuesday night at Shafer Gym. The Purple Tigers were beaten, 62-37.

Sports Editor

The basketball door of opportunity seemed to crack open early in the second half for Cortland High girls on Tuesday evening.
That’s because Syracuse CBA forward Kelsey Johnson was forced to the bench after being whistled for her third personal foul, the senior having scored a dozen points in an opening half that saw the Shafer Gymnasium visitors take a 22-19 lead.
Undeterred by that bit of misfortune, the OHSL Freedom National Division leaders went on to out-score the Purple Tigers 17-2 over the opening six minutes and 15 seconds of the third quarter en route to an impressive 62-37 victory.
Johnson came back to score four more baskets in the fourth quarter and finish with a game-high 20 points, junior center Marisa Romeo spent most of her evening at the free throw line while adding 19 points to go along with eight rebounds and Syracuse CBA headed home with a 3-0 record in the Freedom Division and a 7-2 overall mark.
Senior guard Maggie Brown finished with 19 points for the Purple Tigers, who are now 3-2 in the Freedom Division and 7-2 overall. The only other loss this season for CHS — ranked 19th in the most recent Class A state poll — came against American Division rival and first place possessor Jamesville-DeWitt.
But the early defense played against the dangerous Le Moyne College-bound Brown, who made just one of her first eight attempts from the floor including having three of those shots blocked, was crucial to Syracuse CBA’s success.
“The defense was key,” said Syracuse CBA coach John Niland, the son of former Le Moyne College coaching legend Tom Niland. “Maggie’s a heck of player, she can exploded at any time. We lost her a couple of times, lost our concentration, but for the most part we did pretty well I thought.”
When in a man-to-man defense, the Brothers used junior Olivia Pitonzo to shadow Brown with plenty of additional support. Coach Niland felt a 3-2 zone defense also worked well in slowing down a Cortland team that came into the game averaging 50 points per contest.
“I tell you what, their defense was tough,” said CHS coach Dick Penoyer, as the next best CHS point producer after Brown was junior forward Taylor Tabel who contributed six points coming off the bench.
“They collapsed the inside of that lane and you couldn’t get in there. Maggie wasn’t going to get in there, nobody was going to get in there,” added Penoyer. “They owned the inside, plus they did a much better job rebounding. We were one and done on a lot of shots.”
CORTLAND HELD A 13-9 lead at the end of the opening quarter, capped by a Tabel baseline shot with 39 seconds showing on the clock. A 9-0 run concluded by a Brown three-point play and an assist for a short Tabel swish put the Purple Tigers in front after Syracuse CBA led early 6-2.
It was Syracuse CBA’s time to spurt in the second quarter, reeling off 10 unanswered points including three straight Johnson baskets to take the lead for keeps.
Then the Brothers out-scored Cortland 19-6 in the third quarter when Johnson was a mere spectator, scoring the 10 consecutive points to build a 32-19 advantage. Brown — who also led CHS with eight rebounds, five steals and four assists, worked the offensive boards to end Cortland’s scoring drought with 3:20 to go in the period.
The Brothers then ran off seven more points on a basket by freshman back-up Julie Cuomo, an offensive rebound basket by Romeo and senior guard Michelle Wiese’s 3-pointer with the shot clock close to expiring. CHS, guilty of 21 turnovers on the evening, never made much of a dent into that 39-21 deficit the rest of the way.
“I think we were all a little jacked up in the beginning and trying to get to the ball and go to the basket when the lanes were there yet,” said Coach Niland of CBA. “Once we started passing the ball things developed, and then we made a couple of shots and that changes everything right there.”
“They’re a good shooting team,” said Penoyer, well away his team had to keep leading Syracuse CBA scorers Johnson and Romeo under control. “We knew they were there, and we didn’t stop either one of them. As good as our defense has been, it was non-existent tonight. They played a high-low short corner and we couldn’t stop it.”
Cortland is back home on Friday hosting Fulton in an OHSL Freedom Division contest, and has a Saturday non-league afternoon affair at Watkins Glen in the slate.
“We just need to regroup. Hey, it’s one game out of 18,” said Penoyer. “Shoot the ball better, run the court a little harder.... and they didn’t give us any fast breaks tonight, either. That’s the second game in a row where we have not run the court really well. That’s part of our game and we haven’t done that at all in the last couple of games.”
CORTLAND JVs pulled out a 36-34 overtime win over Syracuse CBA in the prelim as Abby Hess and Shea Swartwout each made the front end of 1-and-1 free throw chances over the final 1:02 to break a 34-34 deadlock.
Hess finished with a game-high 19 points for the Purple Tigers, who are 4-1 in Freedom Division play and 7-2 overall.
CHS fell behind 8-0 at the start, but pulled to within 12-11 by the end of the opening quarter and things stayed tight the rest of the way. Erin Brown added six points to the winning Purple Tigers effort.
“I thought our kids played with a lot of heart. They played real gritty,” said CHS coach Jamie Brown. “We switched from a man-to-man to a zone defense, which was a little more effective. And the free throws down the stretch, we made them when we needed them.”
Paige Nicholson topped CBA with eight points, Gabby Damico and Erinn Grover adding six apiece. In the four-minute extra session, the Brothers were held to just two points on a pair of free throws.


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