February 1, 2012
CHS gym fills up for big J-D game
About 1,300 people turn out to watch the contest Tuesday
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
The Cortland Crazies, high school students who cheer on their team, react Tuesday during the final minutes of the Cortland High School varsity boy’s basketball game with Jamesville-DeWitt.
Tuesday marked an unusual day for Cortland High School’s administration, as the staff prepared for a larger than normal crowd for the boys’ basketball games between Cortland and Jamesville-DeWitt.
People who normally do not show up until just before the varsity game staked out their seats two hours early as the junior varsity game started.
A steady stream of people arrived during that game, as Executive Principal Gregory Santoro watched for the gym to reach capacity.
Jamesville-DeWitt was undefeated, ranked No. 1 in the state, three-time state champion and the only team to beat Cortland this winter. The Red Rams have two Division I basketball players: center DaJuan Coleman, headed for Syracuse University, and forward Tyler Cavanaugh, signed with Wake Forest.
The seating capacity is listed at 1,293 but teachers said the new bleachers, installed last summer, actually seat about 100 fewer people than the previous ones because there are eight sets of stairs.
“This will be huge,” Santoro said between checking with other administrators via walkie-talkie.
Police put up “no parking” signs in front of the school, as people normally park on the driveway.
The school set up three TV sets in the cafeteria and two TV sets next to the athletic boosters’ food sales tables. By the time the varsity game began at 7:20 p.m., the gym had reached capacity and about 20 people were seated in the cafeteria, watching the Cortland Video Club’s telecast of the game.
Teacher Bill Lee, the game announcer, said the evening reminded him of last year’s home game against J-D, which Cortland won, and a victory by Cortland over Nottingham in the 1980s. That Nottingham team had Dorsey Levens, who ended up in the National Football League, and future Cleveland State player Craig Caldwell.
Cortland sixth-grader William Lewis spotted Coleman sitting at the top of the bleachers during the JV game, wearing a black suit and listening to music through earphones. He got a piece of paper from one of the boosters and came back with Coleman’s autograph scrawled on it.
“Because I have no doubt that he can make it to the NBA,” Lewis said when asked why he wanted a high school player’s autograph.
As the varsity players gathered in a hallway, studying the crowd, Head Coach Mick Lowie faced them in the doorway and said, “It’s going to be wicked, wicked loud in there.” He reviewed hand signals he would need to direct them.
The din became deafening as the two teams ran in and warmed up, then had introductions.
Mike Urtz, SUNY Cortland athletic director, arrived with his son and his son’s friend, too late to get into the gym. He said that was fine, as he watched the game on TV next to the booster tables.
“This reminds me of when Hamilton Central had Adonal Foyle,” he said, referring to a 6-foot-10 player who led Hamilton to a state title and ended up in the National Basketball Association. “That year, everywhere Hamilton went, the gyms were packed.”
Cortland won the JV game, 49-46, but the varsity lost, 54-46. Attendance was listed at roughly 1,300.
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