January 20, 2011
CHS suffers first setback
Cuomo’s 29 points leads CBA past Tigers, 51-46
The Syracuse CBA boys’ basketball team rolled into Cortland Wednesday night without its best player, senior point guard Shakir Evans, who didn’t make the trip due to illness.
Clearly, someone else had to step up for the Brothers going up against an unbeaten Cortland High squad.
Rob Cuomo was that someone.
The senior guard came in averaging around eight points a game and poured in a career-high 29, including the decisive 3-pointer — the last of his seven treys — in the waning moments, as the visitors scored a 51-46 OHSL Freedom Division victory over the Purple Tigers. It was the first loss in eight division contests and 11 games overall for Cortland.
The Purple Tigers were in control for most of the first half on their Shafer Gymnasium home floor, leading by seven on three occasions. They were up 28-22 at halftime on the strength of a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by junior forward J.P. Reagan.
The Brothers’ fierce man-to-man defense enabled them to come back and forge two ties in the third, which ended with Cortland on the long end of a 36-33 score.
That set the stage for a wild fourth, in which the two teams were tied five times and the lead changed hands seven times. The final tie was at 46-46 when a wide-open Cuomo — who had kept CBA in the game in the first half with 15 points on five 3-pointers — gave his team the lead for good with a 3-pointer from the left side at the top of the key with 38 seconds left.
Cortland coach Mick Lowie called two timeouts, his team having trouble advancing the ball after inbounding it, and with 25 seconds left Brothers senior forward Andy Drescher was able to deflect a pass at midcourt and give his team the ball back.
Cortland had three fouls to give, and after the third put the visitors in the one-on-one Cuomo knocked down a pair of free throws (his ninth and 10th points of the quarter) to make it 51-46 for CBA with 14.8 seconds left. Cortland was able to get off one shot, which missed, before the buzzer sounded.
“WE CAUGHT A break when Evans couldn’t play,” Lowie said. “If he had been able to, maybe the game wouldn’t have been close. But we knew (Cuomo) is a shooter, and we had to focus on him. At halftime, we told them that just one kid was beating us. We told the kids to stay out on him, and they didn’t.
“It was a physical game both ways, and we came out on the short end of that. We’re more of a finesse team,” he added. “They came out in the second half and played a more physical defense, and we weren’t able to handle it. We’ve been in close games — the Oneida Tournament (which Cortland won) was very competitive — but no one took control tonight. At the end of the game, everyone was looking to get the ball to someone else.”
“This was a good win for us,” CBA coach Buddy Wleklinski said after his team improved to 5-1 in the Freedom National (behind unbeaten Jamesville-DeWitt) and 8-2 overall. “Cortland is a very good, well-coached team, and we knew we’d have to shoot well to win, especially without Shakir, our leading scorer with 14.5 points per game. Robbie’s a good shooter, but two years ago, when he was on the JVs, he went 2-for-19 in a game here. We kidded him beforehand that the law of averages was on his side this time. Tonight wasn’t an aberration. He can shoot that well.
“I thought we did a great job defensively, too,” he added. “We knew that (Justin) Hogan and (Brandon) Babcock were tough, and every time we made a mistake they made us pay. We went with a straight man-to-man except for a couple of minutes in the second quarter, when I switched to zone and they immediately hit a 3-pointer.”
As for the play that resulted in his game-winner, Cuomo said that “The play wasn’t designed to go specifically to me. We wanted to move the ball around and look for an open man. I was really surprised that they lost me and I was able to get wide open, and when I got the ball I just put it up.
“With our best player sick, we knew we had to step up and do a good job of shooting. That (29 points) is my most by far, and so is the seven 3-pointers. Cortland is a real good team, and we knew it would be a battle. This is a real good win, because we still have a chance for the league championship.”
“CBA WAS BETTER than we were tonight,” Lowie said. “We have to take the lessons from this game and learn them quickly. Fowler is here Friday (5:30 p.m. JV start) and also plays a tough man-to-man We’ll have to be able to execute. CBA used their defense to come back, and our offense couldn’t keep the lead.”
Hogan, a senior forward, led Cortland with 12 points and also had seven rebounds, while junior guard Qwuhail Barlow added 10 points and Reagan finished with nine points and a team-high five assists. Junior center Brandon Babcock also had seven rebounds for CHS, which had a 23-20 advantage on the boards.
Senior forward Greg Thomson had a team-high six rebounds for CBA, senior point guard Brian Anderson with six assists.
CORTLAND JVs lost 51-39 to Syracuse CBA in the prelim and are now 6-2 league and 7-4 overall. Vadim Shevchuk led the way with 10 points, while Logan Lang had nine and Eamonn Mahar eight. Jack Pfohl and Jake Wilcox had 17 points each for CBA.
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