February 1, 2012
Rams cool off Purple Tigers
No. 1 state-ranked J-D tops CHS at packed Shafer Gym
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland’s J.P. Reagan makes a move down the lane against Jamesville-DeWitt defenders in the second quarter Tuesday. Visiting J-D came up with a 59-51 victory.
Heading into Tuesday night’s game with Jamesville-DeWitt, the state’s top-ranked Class A team, in a packed Ross O. Shafer Gym, the 12th-ranked Cortland High boys basketball squad had won 12 games in a row.
The Purple Tigers hadn’t fallen since Dec. 13, since they dropped a 59-51 decision to the host Red Rams, the four-time defending NYSPHSAA Class A champions. It was their only setback this season until J-D came south and triumphed again by the same eight-point margin, this time by a 54-46 count.
“Give them credit, they play great man-to-man defense,” CHS coach Mick Lowie said after his team had fallen to 8-2 in the OHSL Freedom American Division and 14-2 overall. “We couldn’t execute our sets the entire night. But to our kids’ credit, with two guys behind them like Tyler Cavanaugh and Dajuan Coleman, their guards can get on you and harass you all night because if you do get by, go right ahead in on those two.”
Those top Red Rams are both headed to Division I colleges next season, 6-foot-9 forward Cavanaugh to play at Wake Forest while 6-foot-10 center Coleman is Syracuse-bound.
“We’d executed pretty well the last five or six games, but that aspect was a disappointment to me tonight,” added Lowie. “Their defense took us right out of our offense. But we played well on defense, too. I was very happy with the defense we played. We held them to the low 50s with those free throws at the end and we felt that if we could hold them to around 50 we could win.”
J-D’s last eight points came from the foul line in the final 1:52.
Senior guard Jonathan Prior led Cortland with 14 points, 10 from the foul line, while senior forward J.P. Reagan added 11 and senior guard Qwuhail Barlow had eight.
According to Lowie, his team’s strategy played out fairly well, other than the offensive futility.
“Our whole game plan was to make their guards beat us. We’d seen Pete Drescher for three years, and know that he and Jafar Kinsey can both shoot, though they don’t that much when they get it inside where it should be.”
This time around, while Cavanaugh scored 16 points and Coleman 13, it was senior Drescher that stood out for the Red Rams — now 10-0 in the Freedom American and 13-2 overall. He scored a game-high 20 points in addition to keying the defense and dishing off a team-high five assists.
“WHEN OUR BIGS ARE doubled I can make shots,” Drescher said after proving just that. “Being in their shadows is better for me; without them I’d never be able to score like this. When they’re doubled they can kick it back out to us guards more, and we’re open. It’s perfect.”
“Pete’s been a quiet hero for us in a lot of ways all year,” J-D coach Bob McKenney said “Some nights we need him to score four or five points, get the ball to the bigs and steady the ship, and he does that. When a team packs it in (defensively) as much as they did tonight, we need to have a perimeter player step up. Pete showed he’ll do whatever is needed for us to be successful. Tonight, he had to score some points and pick up us up offensively. He did a great job.”
“Drescher did step it up for them,” Lowie said. “He hit their only two 3-pointers and made some other plays. He’s a good athlete.”
The game was close throughout. J-D’s biggest lead was that final eight-point margin, which also came at 50-42 with 1:52 left, while CHS led by four, at 6-2, early on. The two teams matched tenacious defenses, Cortland in its 2-3 zone, and it was 12-12 after one quarter and 18-18 at halftime. The hosts, in fact, forged the tie at intermission despite going scoreless for 7:33 of the second. They got a 3-pointer from junior forward Hughes 34 seconds into the stanza to grab a 15-12 lead, and didn’t score again until senior forward Reagan drained a trey with 53 seconds left in the half.
The Purple Tigers were also able to hold the Red Rams scoreless for a stretch of 4:30, from 2:24 left in the first on a basket by Drescher to 2:06 into the second, when Drescher scored again to break the string.
THE VISITORS APPLIED full-court pressure to start the third quarter and scored the first six points, all by Cavanaugh, for a lead they’d never relinquish. They led 38-36 heading into the fourth and scored four of the first six in that quarter, including four by Coleman.
“When they put that full-court press on, suddenly we cross halfcourt and only have 20 seconds to run our offense instead of 35,” Lowie said. “It wears you down.”
“We needed to get the ball inside to Dajuan and we did a couple of times,” Cavanaugh said in minimizing his own contributions. “I think we just needed to calm down and make our shots in the second half. Thank goodness for Pete Drescher in the first half (eight of his team’s 18 points), or we wouldn’t have been in this game. Cortland is a great team that plays well in this building, while we don’t. We were able to pay them back for last season here (a 55-51 CHS win); they flat-out outplayed us in that one. This win will help us as a team.”
The winners had a 37-31 rebounding advantage as Coleman had 13 boards and Cavanaugh 11. Purple Tigers senior center Sean Babcock led all rebounders with 14, while Reagan was the CHS assist leader with four.
The result of Tuesday’s game drops Cortland to the third sectional seed behind Indian River (14-1 on the season) and the Red Rams, meaning that the rivals, if seeding holds in what it appears will be an eight-team Class A sectional tournament, would meet in the semifinals.
“We’ve had some great games with Cortland.” said McKenney, whose team beat CHS 75-55 in last year’s Class A final for its fourth straight sectional title. That’s a great team, and there’s no doubt we’ll see them again (in the postseason).”
“You have to go through J-D to win the title,” Lowie said. “It will be good to play them again; we have to take care of business the next two games (at Chittenango this Tuesday and Mexico a week from Friday). We want to play them again; we believe we can beat that team.”
CHS JVs BEAT J-D 49-46, opening up a 29-18 halftime lead and finally prevailing after J-D had come back to take a fourth-quarter lead. Sophomore guard Qadir Artis had a game-high 20 points for CHS (6-4, 10-6), which avenged a 69-47 loss the first time the teams met, also at J-D on Dec. 13. Evan Dourdas had nine points and Isaiah Williams eight for the Red Rams.
— The capacity crowd was entertained between the JV and varsity games by Tom Carter, also known as Stickman, and his long-stick basketball show. The former Vestal and University of Tennessee track and cross country standout, currently a physical education teacher at Broome Community College, performed various shooting stunts while balancing a spinning ball on the end of a long branch.
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