January 26, 2008


Late spurt lifts Cortland women past pesky Hawks


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland guard Kristin Ciccone (32) dribbles around New Paltz defender Artie Williams at Cory Gymnasium. Ciccone scored 10 second half points as Red Dragons pulled out a 70-57 victory.        

Sports Editor

With their unbeaten conference record in jeopardy, SUNY Cortland women responded when it mattered the most.
Over the final four and a half minutes of play, the Red Dragons turned a 53-52 deficit into a 70-57 victory over pesky New Paltz to begin Friday night’s SUNY Athletic Conference basketball doubleheader at Corey Gymnasium.
That final outburst, started by 3-point shots swished by junior guard Kristin Ciccone and senior forward Sara Cavanaugh, saved the day. By answering that late wake-up call, Cortland improves to 6-0 in conference contests and 12-1 overall.
“We finally got to the point where we had to become aggressive and finally show some toughness, but we have to have that for 40 minutes,” said Coach Jeannette Yeoman of her Red Dragons, who came into the game ranked 22nd nationally in Division III. “We’ve got to get better.”
Five players finished in double figures with guard Maggie Byrne leading the way. She had 14 points including a clutch 3-pointer of her own in the late going, and also matched a career high by getting to nine rebounds. The 5-foot-4 junior sparkplug also had four assists and four steals.
Forward Jessica Lang added 13 points, while Cavanaugh, Ciccone and freshman Jennifer Patten finished with 10 points apiece. Patten and fellow rookie Jennifer Polan were a big help off the bench, the freshmen both hitting 3-point shots in a first half where Cortland led 28-25 despite shooting just 25 percent from the floor.
Still, Cortland needed late heroics to survive.
“Coach has been telling us we need more intensity,” said Ciccone, who connected on a pair of clutch 3-pointers and went 4-for-4 from the line after going scoreless in the opening half. “It clicked in our heads that they could beat us, but once we got into the flow, once we got hustling more and got into the flow, that was when we were at our best. I feel like this team always responds to pressure, no matter what.”
Give credit to New Paltz, under second year head coach Jamie Seward. This quick and scrappy squad, which has the words ‘We’re kind of a big deal’ printed on the back of their black warm-up shirts, certainly came to play.
THE HAWKS HAD won eight straight games before suffering a 57-53 loss at Oneonta earlier in the week. After dropping a second straight valiant effort, New Paltz stands 5-3 in SUNYAC play and 10-5 overall.
Amber Sohns poured in 20 points in the loss, Artie Williams grabbed 14 rebounds as the Hawks won the battle of the backboards 48-38 and reserve Maggie Farrell had a big 12-point, seven-rebound performance.
The Red Dragons also had trouble handling the Hawks’ trapping full-court defense, Cortland with 18 turnovers. That was offset, however, by the 21 turnovers committed by the visitors.
“We’re just standing still too much on offense and defense, and that’s our problem,” said Coach Yeoman of her Red Dragons.
Cortland struggled throughout a first half that featured five ties and three lead changes. But even with scoring leader Laing sitting out the final seven-plus minutes after picking up her second personal foul, Cortland turned a 17-15 deficit into a 25-18 lead with the help of treys by Patten (banked) and Polan.
New Paltz did get to with 28-25 by halftime and would grab its first second half lead at 49-48 when Farrell made a 3-pointer with 7:25 left to play. When Sohns hit in the lane, New Paltz had its last lead at 53-52 with 4:32 remaining.
That’s when Ciccone connected from beyond the arc at the top of the key, followed by a Cavanaugh 3-pointer from the left wing. Byrne almost made in three straight treys for the Red Dragons, but her shot rattled out.
After Williams hit one of two free throws for New Paltz with 2:56 left, Laing scored from the low post, Byrne buried a 3-pointer and Ali Canale made a pair of free throws after grabbing a rebound off the defensive glass and Cortland had a 65-54 edge.
Ciccone and Byrne made four straight free throws, and Cavanaugh hit one of two from the line, in the final minute to protect that double digit lead.
THIS IS THE THIRD straight game Cortland has experienced first half troubles. Cavanaugh had only two free throws over the opening 20 minutes and Laing was held to five points in just 11 minutes of court time.
“We have the Rookie of the Year and the Player of the Year, and they’ve got to work harder to get open inside,” said Yeoman, referring, respectively, to the SUNY honors Laing and Cavanaugh received last year when Cortland captured the conference crown. “And we have to do a better job finding them too, a better job on the perimeter.”
Cortland will get that chance this afternoon when Oneonta arrives for a crucial 2 p.m. match-up.
“They just beat New Paltz so we have to play tough and play like we did in the last five minutes of this game,” said Ciccone of today’s challenge. “We have to keep pushing ourselves, too.”




Dragon men have defense too tough for New Paltz

Sports Editor

After visiting New Paltz was held without a point over the final eight minutes, SUNY Cortland sophomore Willie Coston provided this post-game commentary.
“We do enough defense in practice so we’d better be good at it. We don’t want coach to get upset,” said the quick-footed Coston, who not only contributed seven steals to a defense that forced New Paltz into 25 turnovers but matched his career-high by scoring 19 points.
Coach Tom Spanbauer had to be pleased after his Red Dragons held Friday night’s Corey Gymnasium intruders to 15-second half points during a 67-42 SUNY Athletic Conference basketball romp. The Hawks misfired on 17 of their 22 shots taken over the final 20 minutes in a game Cortland led from the get-go.
“Our guys are playing at an extremely high level of intensity for the entire game,” said Spanbauer after the Red Dragons improved to 5-1 in conference play and 12-3 overall. “Teams are handling the intensity in the first half, but in the second half it has taken a toll on some of the teams we’ve faced.”
Having plenty of able bodies helps the Red Dragons keep that intensity level going.
“Our depth is our strong point,” said junior forward Carson Niehoff, who provided a 13-point pick-me-up off the bench for the Red Dragons. “It’s good to have 16 guys who can come in and give us a good effort every night.
“Coach has said every game in this conference comes down to the final three minutes and the team that steps up the defense is going to come out on top, and we did that tonight,” added Niehoff.
Of course, Cortland settled this issue well before the final three minutes. The Red Dragons scored the opening six points and built an early 18-5 lead five minutes into the game.
“It’s always important to get off to a good start because it gives your defense a little bit of a cushion for when they make a run,” said Coston, who had eight points during that early success.
New Paltz got to within 29-20 with 5:35 led in the first half, but Niehoff hit a 3-pointer and Coston made a couple of free throws — the 6-foot-2 guard from Roundout Valley High School 8-for-9 from the charity stripe for the evening — and New Paltz was never within single digits again.
THE HAWKS DID not have a double digit scorer while falling to 2-6 in the SUNYAC and 6-9 overall under first year head coach Dagan Nelson, who took over for former Red Dragon assistant and current Homer Central coach Doug Pasquerella this season.
Forward Kyle Nelson and guard Vic Alvarez led the visitors with seven points apiece, the Hawks shooting just 35 percent from the floor for the game.





Groton knocks off Newfield in OT

Staff Writer

GROTON — The pressure was certainly there!
Groton Central boys have been in a number of close games, but none meant more than the basketball showdown with Newfield at Richard Court Gymnasium Friday night. The winner would be in sole possession of second-place in the Interscholastic Athletic Conference Division III standings and still have hope of winning the wild-card bid for the league playoffs.
In the tough, physical battle, it was a coming out party for junior point-guard Peter Jackson, who netted 30 points and dished out seven assists to help the Indians win a 76-72 overtime thriller.
It was also the one that almost got away as the Trojans rallied from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to lead 66-64 with eight seconds left in regulation time. Matt Parsons in-bounded the ball and Jackson drove the length of the court before banking home an off-balance lay-up with 2.1 seconds to go to force overtime.
“We almost let it get away,” said Groton coach John Filzen. “We had not seen the 1-3-1 (defense) much this season, but we had worked on a couple of things to use against it. Their match-ups hurt us. Newfield has size, height and quickness. Those kids played ball and it shows why Newfield has had a successful program. The clock could not run fast enough in the fourth quarter.
“Peter had a great all-around game,” Filzen added. “Peter made some key shots for us, as did Ethan (Tilebein). We did have trouble finishing our plays inside and we did struggle at the free throw line in the first half, but we made those shots down the stretch.”
Did trying to slow down the game with the lead hurt the momentum his team had built up in the third quarter?
“There is always a dilemma with that,” said Filzen. “I am a big believer in playing the percentages. I am a believer that you need to learn how to take care of the ball. We just did not execute well enough. You need to work the clock and not rush a shot, unless you are wide open or get a lay-up. We stood around too much and did not move the ball well. We were forcing the ball and had short passing lanes in a crowd instead of making their defense move. The result was we almost lost.”
In overtime, Jackson gave the Indians the lead for good and sparked a 7-0 run in the first two minutes that gave the hoe team a 73-66 cushion. Kyle Yunger added a fast-break bucket and Tilebein (21 points) buried a 3-pointer to complete the run.
In the final 36 seconds, the Indians hit three-of-four foul shots to help seal the victory.