January 24, 2007


Dragon men close, but beaten


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Dave Jutton, right, of SUNY Cortland attempts to wrestle the ball away from Mychal Wilkes of SUNY Brockport.

Sports Editor

This was going to be the night when SUNY Cortland men turned things around.
This was going to be the occasion when some second-half grit was going to be rewarded, when erasing a 13-point deficit was going to produce a much-need confidence boost in the form of a SUNY Athletic Conference basketball victory.
And here was point guard Mark Schaller knocking down a 3-point shot while being knocked down to the Corey Gymnasium hardwood by a Brockport defender late in the second half. That spirit-lifting, long-range connection tied this contest at 63-63 and sent the junior to the free throw line with a chance to put the Red Dragons in front with just 1:56 left to be played.
The lead never arrived.
Cortland would not score again.
Before the final buzzer blared, the Red Dragons would miss six consecutive shots.
That enabled visiting Brockport to finish off this roller-coaster ride of a contest by sinking 7-of-8 free throws — mixed in with a backbreaking lay-up from guard Sherod Harris — en route to a 72-63 victory Tuesday.
That left the Red Dragons 1-6 in conference play, 5-11 overall and losers of three straight outings. All of those losses have been frustratingly similar in nature.
“We have been so close so many times. I still don’t think there are any teams better than us,” said Red Dragon sophomore guard Juan Miolan, who triggered the second half revival from a 43-30 deficit created when Brockport scored 11 unanswered points coming out of halftime.
“It has been a mental thing mostly, but we’ll get over it,” said Miolan, who responded to a role in the starting line-up by scoring 14 points. “The players believe that, the coaches believe that, and it’s a only a matter of time. We have some talented players here. We’re a much, much better team than our record shows.”
But with only nine conference contests remaining, Cortland needs a big late-season spurt to be one of the eight teams advancing into the conference post-season playoffs.
BROCKPORT, FRESH FROM knocking Oneonta out of first place this past Saturday by overcome a 21-point deficit, improved to 4-2 in SUNYAC play and 11-4 overall.
On a team where a dozen players see ample playing time for Coach Nelson Whitmore, back-up guard Sherod Harris had 17 points, starting center Brandon Williams 12 points and 10 rebounds and big man Cantrel Parrish 12 points in a balanced scoring effort.
But the Brockport defense made the difference.
“You’re not going to win games at any level shooting 29 percent,” said Cortland coach Tom Spanbauer. The Red Dragons made 19-of-64 shots for the game and turned the ball over 16 times.
“They took us out of some things we wanted to do,” he admitted.
Brockport also made things miserable for Cortland scoring leader Dave Maggiacomo. The senior guard, who came into the game averaging 18.2 points per game, missed all 10 of his shots while going scoreless.
Cortland forward Carson Niehoff had his second big offensive outing, finishing with 18 points. And senior guard Dave Jutton tied the school record with his 227th career 3-pointer, all nine of his points coming during a first half outburst when the Red Dragons were at their best.
Cortland turned the ball over six times before scoring four minutes into the game, Niehoff finally making a jumper as the shot clock was expiring.
Down 11-9, the Red Dragons reeled off 14 unanswered points including Jutton’s record-tying trey. Jutton landed twice behind the arc during that spree, Schaller and Michael Jankiewicz also making 3-pointers.
A Niehoff corner trey had Cortland still up 28-19, only to see Brockport close the half on a 13-2 run which featured Harris scoring eight points in a span of less than a minute. The Golden Eagles were up 32-30 at the break.
And when the lead grew to 43-30 to open the second half, the Red Dragons chances seemed over.
TWO SOPHOMORES, Miolan and Niehoff, brought Cortland back.
A Miolan 3-pointer tied the game at 46-46, and he followed that by tipping in a missed Schaller shot for the lead.
When Brockport answered that basket, Niehoff scored on the inside before Miolon threw in an off-balanced baseline shot while drawing a foul. Though he missed the chance for a three-point play, Cortland had a 52-48 lead.
It was Brockport’s turn to spurt after that, scoring 10 straight points for a 58-52 lead, but Cortland came back and eventually pulled even on Schaller’s big basket.
Tied at 63-63, Brockport’s Williams made two free throws after being held. And when a Jutton 3-pointer rattled the rim and refused to drop, Harris found a clear path to the basket for the lay-up that put Brockport ahead 67-63 with just over a minute to play. Five more free throws closed the show for the Golden Eagles.
“We did break down defensively at the most critical part of the game, and that’s disappointing,” said Spanbauer of the Harris lay-up.
Missing open shots and 11 free throws was more painful.
“For as many good things and effort plays we made to get us back into it, we just created our own problems to be in that situation,” said Spanbauer. “It comes down to a matter of offensive execution, and that execution is the making of shots.
“It’s made our life very miserable, and the thing is the individuals taking the shots are capable of making the shots,” he added. “That’s a shame, because this was another game for the taking.”


Victory for Red Dragon women

Sports Editor

Most SUNY Cortland players, such as point guard Maggie Byrne, do not spend a lot of time chatting about this lengthy home-court winning streak.
“We mention it sometimes, but we don’t talk too much about it. We don’t want to jinx it,” said Byrne.
Actually, the 5-foot-4 sophomore sparkplug was unaware that the exact number of consecutive home victories at Corey Gymnasium had just grown to 32 games thanks in part to her Tuesday night heroics.
Byrne buried a 3-pointer from the right corner with seven seconds left to play to lift the Red Dragons to a 63-60 victory over Brockport in a women’s basketball showdown of top SUNY Athletic Conference squads.
That clutch connection lifted the Red Dragons into a share of first place in the conference standings, Cortland is now 7-0 along with surprising New Paltz.
That timely trey — Byrne’s fifth 3-pointer of the game, tying her collegiate single game best — also kept a 14-game unbeaten streak going for a Red Dragon squad that has not stumbled since a season-opening tournament loss.
More important to Coach Jeannette Yeoman was how her team refused to get rattled when Brockport (4-2 SUNYAC, 10-5 overall) pulled even three times in the game’s waning moments.
In fact, the only time the Golden Eagles were in front all night was when back-up center Brenlyn Campbell made a pair of free throws late in the first half to give Brockport a short-lived 32-31 lead at the break.
The third and final deadlock during crunch time came when guard Katie Marcella, who topped the Golden Eagles with 20 points, made two free throws with 51.1 seconds left to play to get the visitors even at 60-60.
Cortland’s Sara Cavanaugh missed inside, but the long rebound was secured by guard Kristin Ciccone. Though Coach Yeoman had a timeout to use to set up a final shot, the Red Dragons got the ball into Cavanaugh’s hands. The junior forward drove to the basket and drew a crowd of defenders.
That left Byrne alone in the corner, where she received a Cavanaugh pass and delivered the game-winner.
Brockport got a contested chance to pull even on one last venture down court, but Marcella’s off-balanced effort was well off the mark at the buzzer.

Easy Saints evening

Courtney Hall scored 10 of her game-high 13 points in the third quarter as Cortland Christian Academy girls rolled to a 45-12 Empire State Christian Athletic League basketball win over visiting Emmanuel Baptist from Penn Yan Tuesday. The Saints improved to 7-1 in ESCAL, 9-1 overall.
The Saints boys won a bizarre varsity game by a 2-0 forfeit count over Emmanuel Baptist. Cortland Christian led 45-9 at halftime, but the visitors had some internal matters that needed immediate attention and did not return to the court for the second half, resulting in the forfeit win. Greg Buchanan scored all of his 10 points on the first five possession of the game to lead the Saints, who improved to 8-0 in ESCAL and 11-1 overall.


Cortland Christian 45, Emmanuel Baptist 12: Cortland held a slim 4-2 lead after a first quarter in which the ball would not go in the basket for either team. The Saints recovered the shooting touch in the second quarter with scoring all eight of her points as the home team built a 25-6 cushion. After Baptist made the score 9-6, Cortland went on a 32-0 run to close out the first half.
Hall caught fire in the third quarter as the Saints netted 18 total points to increase their advantage to 43-8. Neither team did much in terms of fourth-quarter scoring.