February 5, 2010


Saints squads fall shy of first


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Caleb Kinney (30) of Cortland Christian Academy pulls down an offensive rebound against Justin Yoder (5) of Valley Heights Thursday night. Valley Heights won a first place showdown in overtime, 54-52.

It was a tough night for Cortland Christian Academy basketball squads in a pair of first-place league showdowns.
After visiting Valley Heights girls had a run of 20 unanswered points en route to a 43-33 victory over the Lady Saints in the opening game of Thursday’s Empire State Christian Athletic League twin bill, the visitors from Norwich also came up with a 54-52 overtime victory over Cortland Christian boys in the nightcap.
Valley Heights boys will still need to beat Penn Yan Emmanuel this evening to secure first place, a loss leaving them tied with Cortland Christian. A sportsmanship tie-breaker would then determine the top seed for next week’s ESCAL playoffs.
Cortland Christian girls will play host to Baldwinsville Christian on Tuesday in an ESCAL semifinal game, while first place Valley Heights entertains Finger Lakes.
On the boys’ side, Cortland Christian will also be a semifinal host on Tuesday against an opponent still to be determined. Currently, Valley Heights sits in first, Cortland Christian is second, Penn Yan Emmanuel third and the Port City Royals fourth.
The ESCAL finals will take place next Friday night at Cincinnatus High School, the girls getting things started at 6 p.m.
— Valley Heights boys earned some revenge against Cortland Christian, having lost 57-45 earlier this season in Norwich when the Saints scored 19 unanswered points to finish the game.
Luke Halberg scored 23 points as Valley Heights improved to 6-1 in the league and 13-2 overall. Nathan Ploss had 28 points for Cortland Christian, the Saints now 6-2 in the league and 11-5 overall.
Cortland Christian has lost three of its last five games, with each setback by a narrow two-point margin.
The Saints led 49-47 with 35 seconds left in regulation when Ryan Rose came up with a three-point play on a drive to the basket to put the visitors up by a point. Jathan Iler made one of two free throws to get Cortland Christian even with 13.8 seconds, and a Halberg shot on a drive with four seconds left rattled out, forcing overtime.
Iler’s putback of his own miss opened the scoring in OT, but the Saints would not score again. A free throw by Reid Rose, his only point of the game, put Valley Heights up 53-52 with 47 seconds left and Halberg made one of two chances from the free throw line at 24.3.
The Saints were hoping to get a final chance when Ryan Rose missed two free throws with five seconds left for Valley Heights. Though the visitors had no one lined up on the lane looking to stay back for defensive purposes, shooter Rose rebounded his own miss and dribbled away the final seconds.
Ryan Rose had 15 points and Justin Miller 13 for the winners.
Ploss had a trio of 3-pointers as part of his 28 points, while Iler finished with 12 points and 16 rebounds. Caleb Kinney had eight points and a dozen rebounds, while Nick Rofe handed out seven assists.
— In the girls’ game, Cortland Christian (6-2 ESCAL, 13-2 overall) held a 14-12 lead early in the second quarter when Valley Heights (7-0, 10-1) went on its 20-point spurt that included the opening basket of the third quarter.
Sarah Miedema had 18 points for Valley Heights, six of those along with three assists coming during the decisive pull-away when the Lady Saints made a bulk of their 30 turnovers in the contest. Jessie Ray added nine points and Amanda Evans eight in the victory.
Larissa Miller had eight points to lead the Lady Saints. Diane Horton finished with six points and nine rebounds, while Rachel Hicks grabbed nine rebounds and Leah Sweeney seven.