January 25, 2014
Purple Tigers handle Mexico
The Cortland High boys’ basketball team had a comfortable lead at halftime of Friday night’s game against visiting Mexico at Shafer Gym.
The Purple Tigers then used the third quarter to remove any questions as to what the final outcome would be.
CHS, which led 37-26 at intermission, outscored its guests 27-10 in the third — keyed by guard Sage Brown’s nine points — and went on to an easy 70-47 OHSL Freedom National Division win.
Coach Jeremy Milligan’s squad is now 5-3 in league play and 9-4 overall, while Mexico fell to 1-8 league and 2-9 overall.
“A change in our defense from man-to-man to a half-court 1-2-2 trap started to expose a weakness in the overall chemistry of Mexico,” Milligan said. “Our players really worked hard in the press in the third quarter, and it showed with an avalanche of points. Mexico had six turnovers at halftime and 15 on the game. At least five timely turnovers at the start of the half were the result of the press. These led to easy baskets for us.
“Sage is so athletic and works so hard for us. He was able to get some easy baskets off of the press, when he was able to score in transition,” he added of junior Brown.
Milligan was also happy to have his team at full strength for Friday’s contest.
“We faced Mexico in our fourth game of season — a 66-50 victory on Dec. 10 — without Teddy Phillips cleared to play yet and also lost Eamonn Mahar with a first-quarter injury. This time all 14 players on our roster were not only cleared to play but saw large-volume minutes.”
All told, 11 of those 14 players scored points for the Purple Tigers, who trailed only once, 6-4 early in the game — and led 20-16 after one quarter, senior forward Phillips with all seven of his points in that stanza. The hosts pushed their 11-point halftime lead to 20 and led by as much as 27, at 56-29, in the third.
“In just his third game back from coming off his injury, Eamonn played well shooting a perfect from the floor 3-for-3 including two three-pointers for eight points,” said Milligan of senior guard Mahar. “His return gives us another solid guard with lots of court experience, great court vision and another deep shooting threat. His return makes our team that much more dangerous.”
Brown led CHS with 16 points to go with five assists, while senior guard Qadir Artis had 14 points, including 10 in the second quarter, and five rebounds. Junior forward Quinn Kennedy and senior forward Daquan Pittman also pulled down five rebounds each as the winners owned the boards 42-21. Sophomore guard Nick Craig also had five assists, while junior forward Trae Libbey had a team-high three steals.
Junior Justin Marsden led Mexico with 22 points (including four 3-pointers), with 14 coming in the first half, and junior Jacob Cleveland added 12. “After Marsden dropped 14 in the first half, we realized that putting on our half-court trapping press would force Mexico to have to share the ball, putting it in the hands of weaker guards,” Milligan said.
“In their quarter-court offense, Mexico was patient enough running flex to get the ball to Mardsen with a defensive mismatch. He is a great basketball player and often took advantage of his defensive mismatch.”
The Purple Tigers went 28-for-55 from the floor (51 percent) on the night to the visitors’ 13-for-43 (30 percent).
Friday was the team’s second annual Mentor Dedication Night, with pre-game ceremonies giving each player the opportunity to recognize someone in pre-game ceremonies who helped them achieve success.
CORTAND JVs rolled to a 74-39 win over Mexico, out-scoring their visitors 39-18 in the second half. Sophomore forward Jake Prignon led the way with 17 points, complemented by two teammates — guard Kersean Perry and forward Curtis Wilk — with 10 each. Freshman Zachary Lawler led Mexico with 15 points, all on five 3-pointers.
Cortland’s teams host Fowler Tuesday and Fulton Friday on Senior Night, with the JV games starting at 5:30 p.m. in both instances.
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