January 30, 2016

Purple Tigers clinch sectional spot

OSWEGO — Friday was a good night overall for the Cortland High boys’ basketball team.
With eight different players hitting the scoring column and every member of the squad seeing playing time, the Purple Tigers beat host Oswego 67-55.
Coach Jeremy Milligan’s squad is now 5-4 atop the OHSL Freedom National Division and 8-9 overall, which means that it clinched a berth in the Class A sectionals with the victory.
The first and third quarters were keys to the final outcome. Cortland moved to a 21-11 lead after the first eight minutes and, after taking a 37-29 lead into halftime, put up 22 points to 12 for the hosts in the third quarter to take a 59-41 lead into the fourth and settle the issue.
“Overall, our team played hard and looked great for long stretches of play,” Milligan said. “It was great to be able to get all our players much-deserved minutes in the game. It was Senior Night in Oswego, which meant a tweaking of the starting lineup with all seniors. Two of their top three scorers are juniors, and they sat the opening few minutes.
“We faced a 3-2 zone the majority of the game until late when the score was lopsided and got off to a hot start in the opening quarter on 9-of-15 shooting We executed our zone offense really well and our guards did an excellent job of finding Chris Luke down low.”
Senior center Luke scored nine of his 14 points in the opening stanza.
The Buccaneers, now 5-5 in Freedom American play and 5-7 overall, used an 18-16 second-quarter advantage to cut into the deficit a bit. Purple Tigers junior guard Will Pace hit a pair of 3-pointers in the period en route to a 15-point night.
“Foul trouble plagued both teams throughout the half, with multiple starters for both teams having to be sidelined after collecting their second personals,” Milligan said. “The officials called a tight game and we benefited from this by being in the one-and-one bonus before the first quarter ended. Oswego had to sit 6-5 junior center Carson Smith and senior point guard Mike Poston, and for us Nick Craig, John Khazzaka and Luke were all sidelined with two first-half fouls.
“Early in the game we went to a half-court trap and Oswego struggled against our aggressive trapping zone. They had 10 turnovers at the half but hung around and competed, not allowing us to run away with things in the first half.”
Senior guard Craig changed that in CHS’s huge third quarter, scoring 13 of his team-high 17 points in those minutes as the Purple Tigers lengthened their advantage.
“At the half we discussed our need to go back out and be patient and take the best available shot against the zone, reminding our players that Oswego had no players that could match up with Chris inside,” Milligan said. “In the second half we really caused havoc with the half-court press again, causing numerous turnovers — some of which led to easy points. Oswego had 22 turnovers on the game.
“Nick was able to be the recipient of a few steals in the open court and was able to get some buckets in transition, along with a few coast-to-coast drives off of rebounds. Nick has really stepped up his production at both ends the last few games, putting together solid all around performances including the 17 points along with six rebounds, five assists and five steals.”
In addition to his points, Pace also had six rebounds, five assists and five steals. Luke had three blocked shots and two steals, junior forward Duff Steve took advantage of extended playing time with seven points and five rebounds and senior forward Curtis Wilk had eight points, including two 3-pointers.
Senior forward Jake Gerber led Oswego with 18 points, including 11 in the second quarter, and junior guard/forward Trey Clark sank four treys en route to a 14-point night.
Cortland visits Homer Central Monday at SUNY Cortland in a league contest that follows the 6:30 p.m. JV game.
CORTLAND JVs beat Oswego 50-35 and are now 5-11 on the season. Freshman guard/forward Rory Hines and freshman center Jay T. Atkins led the way with 11 points each and sophomore guard Kyle Behrenfeld added seven as the Purple Tigers rolled to a 35-18 lead after three quarters. Oswego got 11 points from sophomore guard Max Mays.

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