February 11, 2012


Brown takes charge for CHS

Senior sparks rally to beat Mexico

BasketballBob Ellis/staff photographer
Kayla McUmber of Cortland High drives to the basket around Ashley Santmyer of Mexico Friday night. CHS won 52-37 at Shafer Gym.

Staff Writer

Talk about taking a game over.
The Cortland High girls’ basketball team trailed visiting Mexico 27-25 heading into the fourth quarter Friday on Senior Night at Shafer Gym.
That’s when Purple Tigers senior guard Maggie Brown grabbed the contest by the collar and determined the direction it would head in, scoring 22 points and coming up with five steals, four of which led to layups, in the final eight minutes as CHS outscored its visitors 27-10 in the stanza to score a 52-37 win.
“I just played tight on my girl, got in the passing lane and took the ball,” said Brown, who had six steals in all as well as 16 rebounds to go with her scoring. “In the first half I was forcing my shots and I don’t think I played that well.”
Brown had just nine points by halftime.
“I told Maggie to quit passing, to be a little selfish with the ball,” Cortland coach Dick Penoyer said, his team, tied for 25th in the latest Class A state poll, having closed out the regular season at 9-3 in the OHSL Freedom American Division and 15-3 overall. “But the difference in the game was our defense. We switched from a zone in the first half to a man-to-man pressure in the second. A key was when Shai Ann Jones went in and picked up their center (senior Victoria Seabrooks), holding her down in the second half and also giving us some speed up the middle.
“Mexico is a scrappy team, and we thought we could play zone against them. But that slowed the game down too much, so I told the girls at halftime that we had to speed the game up, that we couldn’t get in a half-court game with them. We went man-to-man to do that, and it was the first time all year I’ve seen the girls play man-to-man that hard. They got right after them,” he added.
Brown scored the Purple Tigers’ first six points of the fourth quarter in a span of 1:14, the third basket putting the hosts up for good at 31-29. Junior forward Julia Babjack hit a jumper from the right corner to make it 33-29 before Brown scored the winners’ next 10 points to make it 43-32 with 3:06 left and pretty much settle the issue.
AS FOR BROWN’S fourth-quarter heroics, Penoyer noted that “She made some great steals, and is capable of taking a game over like that. But it all wouldn’t have happened without the other four kids playing good defense. Maggie is one of those kids you get as a coach once or twice in a lifetime that are athletic and can play like that. She’s a special player, no doubt about it.”
“She’s a great player who it’s a privilege to play against,” said Mexico coach David Passer, his team finishing 4-8 in the Freedom American and now 8-10 overall heading into the postseason. “She came up and baited us to think that girls were open, and was able to jump on the passes. She’s a smart player, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Dick told her that the fourth quarter was her time. I would have.
“We went with a modified 1-3-1 zone, and if Brown got the ball we’d give extra help. We tried to get free to take the shots we wanted to take and did a good job. I can’t be displeased at all. The kids played hard, like they have all season long.”
“The last time we played them we were ready for the 1-3-1 zone,” said Penoyer, whose team won 51-45 on the road Jan. 26. “The kids know how to attack it, but didn’t do that so well tonight.
“Dave does a nice job with those kids. I like the way he coaches — he knows how to use his players.”
Mexico got off to a slow start in the contest, trailing 6-0 before finally scoring with 3:48 left in the first quarter on a shot inside by Seabrooks. It was 10-8 for the Purple Tigers after one quarter, but a 10-5 second-quarter advantage gave the visitors an 18-15 halftime lead.
CHS TRAILED FOR most of the third quarter until junior forward Amanda DeGraff scored a rebound basket with 32 seconds left to forge a 25-25 tie. Mexico, however, came right back with an inside bucket by junior guard Jamie Wallace with 14 seconds left and took that two-point advantage, at 27-25, into the fourth.
DeGraff had eight points and Babjack seven for Cortland to complement Brown, while junior forward Devon Tennant had six rebounds and Jones five as the hosts totaled 39 boards. Senior Hali Peter had 10 points for Mexico, with eighth-grader Kendra Harter adding nine and Seabrooks eight — just two in the second half — to go with 10 rebounds.
Cortland’s five seniors — Brown, senior forward Jones, guard Kayla McUmber, forward Taylor Huenink and guard Liz Torti — were honored in pre-game ceremonies, as were their parents and the wives of Penoyer and assistant coach Ron Hulslander, with assistant LeeAnn Martins not in attendance.
“Senior night always throws kids off,” said Penoyer, who started the five upperclassmen and called a late timeout to get them all in the game at the end. “There’s lots of emotion involved.”
The Purple Tigers will learn their assignment for the upcoming Section 3 Class A tournament at Sunday’s seeding meeting.
CORTLAND JVs lost 31-30 to Mexico to finish the season at 10-2 in the league and 13-5 overall. CHS had two chances to take the late lead but lost the ball on the first chance before a last-second shot missed on the second. The hosts led 5-4 after one quarter but trailed 13-7 at halftime and 24-20 heading into the fourth. Eighth-grader Amy Holland hit two late free throws to give Mexico the lead for good.
Freshman forward Abby Hess led the Purple Tigers with nine points while eighth-grade guard Shea Swartwout had eight. Sophomore Brooke Wills took game honors with 10 points for the winners.
“Despite a sloppy first half we were only down by a few at halftime,” Purple Tigers coach Jamie Brown said. “We came out and played some inspired defense in the third quarter to turn the game around. Our man-to-man press bothered them and we capitalized on turnovers. Despite the loss that half was one of our best performances. Raeanna Dunn (sophomore guard) stepped it up tonight and (freshman forward) Chickie Artis rebounded well.
“This group of players has progressed tremendously over the course of the season and should be proud of their accomplishments.”


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