February 07, 2007


Red Dragon women display depth

Dragon Women

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland guard Maggie Byrne finished off this fast break against Oneonta’s Alicia Ellis  (3) last night at Corey Gym. Byrne had 18 points in 73-62 Cortland win.

Sports Editor

SUNY Cortland women can create basketball success in so many different ways.
That is one reason why the surging Red Dragons have now won 19 straight contests, including Tuesday night’s 73-62 victory over visiting Oneonta.
Having different people step up and contribute is another reason why the Red Dragons have now won 35 consecutive games on their Corey Gymnasium home floor, a remarkable streak stretched out over three seasons.
Despite turning the ball over 23 times, despite having one of its top scorers misfire on a dozen shots from the floor, Cortland tightened its first place grasp. The Red Dragons are a perfect 12-0 against SUNY Athletic Conference competition and 19-1 overall with four games left in the regular season.
Freshman Jessica Laing continues her amazing rookie season, scoring 22 points and getting her hands on 14 rebounds. The versatile 5-foot-11 forward now has 14 ‘double-double’ performances in her 20 games at Cortland.
Sophomore guard Maggie Byrne tossed in 18 points and handed out five assists. She was 8-for-9 from the free throw line, as the final 18 Cortland points scored in this victory came from free throws.
And with 15-points per game scorer Sara Cavanaugh struggling to get things going offensively, senior guard Kerry Costello and sophomore forward Ali Canale more than made up for that lack of offensive production. Costello had 14 points, seven rebounds and a couple of steals defensively. Canale tossed in nine points to go along with seven boards before fouling out in the second half.
“It means a lot,” said Costello of having other players step up when needed, the captain having just praised freshman guard Miranda Lustig for her contributions to this victory that included three clutch free throws down the stretch.
“It helps everyone on the team knowing if you have an off night you have teammates who can pick you up,” added Costello. “When you can depend on your teammates, it’s a confidence boost for everyone.”
Coach Jeannette Yeoman also praised the depth displayed by her team, singling out Lustig and Canale. “That’s good. Someone’s loss is someone else’s gain, and when we get Brittany Martin back we’re just going to have that much more depth,” said Yeoman.
DEPTH IS IMPORTANT considering Cortland already lost senior Andrea Wilkinson to a season-ending knee injury. Promising frosh forward Martin was on crutches last night after being injured in last Friday’s win over Potsdam, though she is expected back before the season concludes.
Though the Red Dragons got off to a good start against these Oneonta visitors with the same Red Dragon nickname, the first half featured two ties and 10 lead changes.
Oneonta (6-6 SUNYAC, 13-8 overall) moved ahead for the last time at 29-28 when Cortland closed the half with two big baskets.
Cavanaugh made a tough fade away shot from the low post after being fed by Costello to put the Red Dragons ahead. And after Oneonta traveled with 11.8 seconds left, Costello drained a 3-pointer from the corner before the buzzer blared for halftime.
With that 33-29 lead, Cortland scored the opening eight points of the second half — on three Laing baskets and a Costello lay-up off a Byrne assist — to take control.
Another stretch that cost Oneonta came with Cortland ahead 46-40. Canale and Costello each made open 3-point shots, Laing converted a three-point play from the low post and the lead grew to 55-40 with 8:18 left to play.
The remainder of Cortland’s points came on free throws, shooting 18-for-22 the rest of the way. Oneonta did get to within six points, but could pull no closer.
“Cortland is a good team that makes runs and they made one at the end of the first half and the start of the second half,” said Oneonta coach Dan McGraw. “They’ve been making the plays all year long. They’re used to winning.”
Melissa Donohue had 16 points and eight rebounds to lead Oneonta, while Christie Podgorski came off the bench to make 5-of-11 shots including a trio of 3-pointers while tossing in 14 points.
ONEONTA HAS DROPPED four of its last five games to fall out of contention in the conference. Though he starts four sophomores along with senior Donohue, and used a dozen different players in the first half alone, Coach McGraw stated: “It is time for us to get on with it and make some plays.”
Meanwhile, the turnovers were troubling for Cortland — who overcame those woes by out-rebounding Oneonta by a lopsided 49-32 margin.
“We can’t turn it over,” said Yeoman, Cortland playing the first of three straight road games Friday at Buffalo State. “There were a couple of big swings there in the second half where we were fortunate to have a cushion. We can’t do that come tournament time.”


Cortland men find winning formula

Sports Editor

So this is how it is done.
SUNY Cortland men seemed to have finally figured out how to close the show, how to put the finishing touches on a deserved basketball victory with the scoreboard clock winding down.
Unlike earlier disappointments this season, the Red Dragons stubbornly refused to allow the lead to slip away Tuesday night on their home floor. They were able to turn back Oneonta for a 58-54 victory that brought them a step closer to a possible conference playoff berth.
And Cortland’s third win in the past four outings — with sophomore forward Carson Niehoff finishing with 15 points and eight rebounds, while senior guards Dave Jutton and Dave Maggiacomo tossed in 13 points apiece — came against an Oneonta squad that arrived at Corey Gymnasium in third place in the SUNY Athletic Conference standings.
“We have been in this position before,” said feisty Cortland junior Dave Schaller, the third and most affective point guard used on this evening by Coach Tom Spanbauer. “This time we kept our poise, executed down the stretch and hit our free throws.”
Cortland is now tied with Buffalo State for the eighth and final SUNYAC playoff spot, both with 4-8 conference records with four games left on the regular season schedule. The Red Dragons visit Buffalo State this Friday night to break that tie.
Cortland (8-13 overall) heads into that game with some late season momentum. Even the Red Dragons’ most recent loss, Saturday’s 62-52 home court stumble to second place Plattsburgh, was not all that discouraging.
“One of the reasons we came up short Saturday was from with six to four minutes to go our IQ was low, we made some bad ‘between the ears’ plays. And we didn’t do that tonight,” said Coach Spanbauer. “We just played two of the top three teams in the conference and we knocked one of them off. Our goal now is to keep improving and just get ourselves in position to win basketball games.”
“We’re actually getting used to the close games,” said Schaller, who had three assists, two steals and a lone turnover in his 20 minutes of court time.  “Things are starting to click for us.”
WITH 20 FOULS whistled, the opening 20 minutes became a free throw shooting contest Oneonta was winning before the Red Dragons closed the half scoring nine straight points. Schaller set up both Niehoff and Maggiacomo for 3-pointers during that late success, Maggiacomo’s swish from the left wing at 0:04 enabling Cortland to head into the break ahead 30-24.
Oneonta, now 8-4 in conference play and 10-11 overall, would retake the lead second half sparked by the 3-point shooting of Bobby Fisk. He scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half including a trio of treys in the early going.
Oneonta was ahead 41-36 on a pair of Fisk free throws with 11:46 left to play, only to see Cortland recover starting with a Maggiacomo 3-pointer. This game was tied at 43-43 and 45-45 when a three-point play converted by lanky 6-foot-7 William Heslin off the offensive boards put the visitors ahead 48-45 with 6:25 remaining.
Heslin, one of five seniors in the starting line-up for head coach Vincent Medici, ended up scoring the final 14 points of the game for his side — but that wasn’t enough.
Down 48-45, Cortland reeled off seven straight points — six by freshman center Mike Lewis including an open lay-up off a Schaller assist — and never trailed again.
With the shot clock winding down, Heslin made a 3-point shot from deep in the corner with just over three minutes to play to get Oneonta within 52-51.
That’s when Cortland responded to the challenge.
Niehoff displayed a soft touch on a drive, his bank shot putting Cortland ahead 54-51 with 2:03 left to play.
After Heslin made a pair of free throws, Jutton finished off a drive into heavy traffic putting Cortland ahead 56-53 with 49 seconds left to play. “That was a real difficult shot going against bigger guys,” marveled Coach Spanbauer.
After Heslin made two more free throws, Jutton was hacked. The senior stepped to the free throw line and made both tries to put Cortland ahead 58-55 with 25.4 left to play.



CHS gets rematch at Homer

The Homer Central and Cortland High volleyball teams will go at it for a third time this season Thursday in the first round of the Section 3 Class A sectional tournament.
The Trojans enter the tournament seeded fifth with an 11-6 overall record, while Cortland is 12th at 5-10. Homer has already beaten Cortland twice this season, in four games at home in December and in three games at Cortland last Monday. The winner moves to the quarterfinals against either No. 4 Vernon-Verona-Sherrill (11-5) or No. 13 East Syracuse-Minoa (5-13).
Oneida is the top seeded Class A school.
Another rematch will take place at 6 p.m. today in the Class D tournament, as seventh-seeded Cincinnatus (11-8) hosts No. 19 McGraw starting at 6 p.m. The Eagles won both regular-season Central Counties League contests between the two, in four games at home in December and in five games at Cincy last month. The survivor of tonight’s match visits No. 2 New York Mills (17-4), the two-time defending sectional Class D champion, in the quarterfinals.
In another Class D contest today, also a 6 p.m. start, fifth-seeded DeRuyter (13-6) entertains No. 12 Owen D. Young (7-12), with the winner to travel to No. 4 Oppenheim-Ephratah (14-6) for the quarterfinals. The Rockets have been Class D runners-up to New York Mills in each of the last two seasons.
Faith Heritage is top seeded in Class D, with New York Mills the second seed.