January 18, 2010
Bulldogs hold off CHS in tourney final
ONEIDA — Cortland High boys came close to knocking off a pair of bigger basketball opponents and claiming the title at the Alliance Bank Tournament held over the weekend.
The Purple Tigers opened things up on Saturday pulling away in the second half to beat Rome Free Academy 69-46 to reach the finals, only to fall to Nottingham High 58-55 in the title contest Sunday at Oneida High School.
Brandon Babcock had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the double-double in the loss to Nottingham. Jordan Prior tossed in 15 for the Purple Tigers, who are now 10-3 on the season heading into Tuesday’s trip to play rival Homer Central back in the OHSL Freedom Division.
Both Purple Tigers were all-tournament selections.
Tournament MVP Jawan Simmons had 21 points for Nottingham, the Bulldogs from Syracuse improving to 6-4 overall. Nottingham was a 57-45 winner over Oneida in the first round.
In the third place consolation contest Sunday, Oneida beat Rome Free 57-49 as Evan Watson netted 24 points for the hosts.
Nottingham 58, Cortland 55: “Nottingham is an extremely athletic team,” Cortland coach Mick Lowie said. “They were a taller team and they certainly jumped higher, which helped control the boards. Their height also gave us trouble inside. We struggled to get clean shots off in the paint.”
Despite the disadvantage, Cortland enjoyed a 27-24 lead. That changed during the third quarter as Nottingham started with a 10-0 run using the 6-foot-7 Mabior Mayen and 6-3 Simmons.
“They brought Mayen to the high post and he would dump the ball off to Simmons down low,” Lowie explained. Simmons scored 11 of his points in the quarter as the Bulldogs exploded for 24 points.
With his team trailing by 53-40 with 4:33 remaining in the game, Lowie called a time-out and changed his defensive strategy.
“We decided to switch to our half-court trap and it was effective,” Lowie said. “We began to play with an urgency and Nottingham was playing to not make mistakes. That began the perfect scenario for us. We should have made that switch earlier.”
The Bulldogs began turning the ball over and the Purple Tigers began hitting from the outside. Jeff Brown and P.J.Mahar hit 3-pointers from the outside and Brandon Babcock finished off an old-fashioned three-point play during the late game surge that saw Cortland close the gap to 58-55 with a 15-5 run.
With eight seconds remaining, Cortland got possession and Lowie called another time-out.
“We set up a play to get Jeff Brown free,” he explained. “We were successful. Jeff got a good look, but his shot was just short. Jeff had an outstanding tournament. He really played his heart out.”
Nottingham shot 40 percent (25-for-62) overall and held a 43-32 edge in rebounding, including 26 offensive rebounds. Cortland shot 37 percent (22-for-60).
“It was a tough tournament overall,” Lowie added. “It was good for us and it provided two good tests in preparing for sectionals.”
Cortland 69, Rome Free 46: A 24-point fourth quarter put the finishing touches on a solid Purple Tigers victory, with a balanced attack that featured 17 points from Prior, 16 from Babcock and 15 from Brown.
After trailing by four at the end of the opening quarter, CHS surged ahead 26-22 by halftime and pulled away from there.
“Our half-court trap was very effective,” Lowie said. “We went into it late in the second quarter and stayed in it through the first couple minutes of the fourth quarter.
“Our offense began executing better in the second half,” he added.
The Purple Tigers were 9-for-16 (56 percent) in the decisive third-quarter and shot 67 percent (18-for-27) in the second half. That included 9-for-11 shooting from the field in the fourth quarter.
Babcock and Caleb Wright each pulled down eight rebounds in the game with Babcock blocking five shots. Prior also dished out six assists.
Jerry Howard had 14 points and Eric Williams 10 for the Black Knights.
CORTLAND JVS split their two weekend games. The Junior Tigers dropped a 68-47 decision to Rome Free in Saturday’s first round. Isaiah Prior scored 13 points to lead Cortland with Evan Jackson adding 10 points.
On Sunday, Cortland posted a 53-51 victory in double overtime against Oneida in the consolation game. Prior buried a 3-pointer with 4.5-seconds remaining in the first overtime to send the game into the second extra segment. Jackson dropped a 15-footer with 4.6 seconds to go in the second OT to secure the victory.
Prior finished with 10 points in the game and was named to the all-tournament team. Brian Hughes netted a team-high 14 points with Josh Gutchess netting 12 points and Jackson adding 11 points.
Cortland will take the court Tuesday at rival Homer Central with a 5:30 p.m. tipoff.
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