February 13, 2007


Free throws help save CHS


Bill Sinsabaugh/contributing photographer
Cortland High guard Derek Allen finishes off a fast break during Monday’s 58-54 victory over Phoenix at Shafer Gym.

Foul line proficiency down the stretch was a saving grace for the Cortland High boys’ basketball team Monday night as it defeated Phoenix 58-54 in its regular-season home finale at Shafer Gymnasium.
“Joel White and Tom Wilk made some free throws down the stretch,” Cortland coach Mick Lowie said, “but we tried to give the game away several times. Give Phoenix a lot of credit. They played very well, like they had nothing to lose, were relaxed and shot well. We were uptight, as if we had everything to lose.
“Our defense was the biggest disappointment,” he added. “It bordered on embarrassing. There was a total lack of communication and activity, and it lead to easy shots that Phoenix made. There were just too many defensive mistakes. Our rebounding was also poor.”
The hosts actually won the game at the foul line, as they relied on their inside game offensively and hit only one perimeter shot all night. That long range connection was a jumper from the corner by White at the end of the third quarter that tied the game 42-42 heading into the final eight minutes.
Cortland was 16-for-24 from the foul line for the night to the Firebirds’ 1-for-1.
Phoenix, which finished the regular season 1-11 in league play and 3-17 overall, led 15-8 after the first quarter, in which the Purple Tigers committed 10 of their 18 turnovers on the night. “We switched to a man-to-man defense in the second quarter, and it worked,” said Lowie, whose team rolled to an 18-5 advantage over that eight minutes and led 26-20 at halftime. “Dan Leonard, Derek Allen and Joel had some steals which led to some points for us.
“We wanted to try not to use Tom Wilk if possible. He re-sprained his left ankle in practice last week and isn’t 100 percent,” added Lowie. “But he ended up playing most of the game. Our whole plan was to go inside; their big man is hurt and didn’t play.”
Wilk led CHS with 21 points, and Kaywon Pittman added 11. White, the team’s leading scorer, got into some foul trouble, and wound up with just six points. He went 3-for-4 on the foul line in the fourth, however, while Wilk was also 3-for-4.
“We came out in the third quarter and went up by 10 or 12 points,” Lowie said. “Then we proceeded to shoot, and miss, four straight from the perimeter while giving them three or four baskets in a row.”
White’s shot at the buzzer, which Lowie noted was actually from behind the 3-point line but counted for only two points, forged the 42-42 tie at the end of the third.
Cortland never trailed in the fourth, but Phoenix was within two, at 50-48, with 2:57 left and was down by just 53-52 when White hit a pair of free throws to make it 55-52 with 26 seconds left. The Firebirds scored to make it a one-point game, 55-54, with four seconds left. Wilk then hit two free throws and White one, after stealing the subsequent inbounds pass and getting fouled, to account for the final margin.
White had 10 rebounds, matching Wilk as the visitors had a 42-38 advantage on the boards. White also added eight steals and seven assists.
The Purple Tigers’ regular-season finale at Mexico tonight was cancelled this morning due to the impending storm, so CHS finishes the regular season at 6-5 in the league and 13-6 overall. “That’s an outstanding record for this group of kids,” Lowie said, noting that at one point the team was 2-3, the two wins coming against Marathon and Groton in the O’Heron Tournament. “They showed a huge amount of improvement.”
Lowie also noted that Cortland should be a sixth seed for the upcoming Section 3 Class A tournament and thus host a first-round game Friday night.
CORTLAND JVs ended their season with a 74-44 romp over Phoenix to finish the season at 11-6. Trevor Williamson led the way with 25 points, while Kevin Shaw added 11 and Justin Guerin 10. Jon North had 16 points and Jared Young 14 for Phoenix.


Hungry Dryden to semis

ODESSA — Getting a second chance to earn a spot in the Interscholastic Athletic Conference basketball playoffs, Dryden High made the most of the opportunity Monday night.
A pair of free throws by Tim Finnerty with 2.3 seconds showing on the clock lifted the Purple Lions to a 56-54 victory over Elmira Notre Dame in a tie-breaker to decide the wild card entry into the IAC semifinals.
Those free throws were the last of 20 points poured in by Finnerty, as Dryden (15-5) reaches the playoffs for the first time in 27 seasons.
Dryden had tied Watkins Glen for first place in the IAC Division I standings, but lost a first place tie-breaker contest Saturday night to the Senecas by an 81-57 margin.
That set up this extra outing to decide the wild card entry into the playoffs, meeting Elmira Notre Dame at this neutral Odessa-Montour High School site.
With Finnerty doing damage inside, with Josh Horton coming off the bench to toss in 11 points including a timely 3-pointer that gave Dryden a 54-53 lead in the late going, Dryden earned a place in the playoffs.
The busy Purple Lions, this their fourth outing in the past six days, will head to Horseheads Middle School for Wednesday’s semifinal doubleheader.
Dryden meets Division II regular season champion Candor (18-0) in the 6 p.m. opening contest, with Watkins Glen (15-4) from Division I taking on Lansing (15-3) from Division II at 8 p.m.
The champion will be crowed Saturday afternoon at SUNY Cortland, the title game scheduled for a 2 p.m. start at Corey Gymnasium.
Elmira Notre Dame got 23 points from Greg Schiefen, including four 3-pointers. The Crusaders were 31-28 halftime leaders and built an 8-point advantage in the third quarter before the Purple Lions bounced back.
“Our kids are hungry. We got down by eight and we responded with a big three and a couple of defensive stops,” said Dryden coach Dan Miller, Horton with the critical 3-pointer then. “We displayed a lot of toughness and willed it to happen.”
Dryden held a fourth quarter lead only to have Schiefen split a double team and score driving to the basket, drawing a foul. He completed a three-point play to put END up 53-51.
That’s when Horton’s key trey from the right wing — his third 3-pointer of the game — came with 36 seconds left off a Chris Streeter pass. Elmira Notre Dame pulled even moments later making the second of two free throws, setting the stage for Finnerty to cash in from the free throw line for the game-winning points.
Point guard Jordan Minnis provided the pass that led to Finnerty being fouled with just over two ticks remaining. After an END timeout, he made both attempts to break the tie. Horton then capped his big game by picking off the Crusaders inbounds pass to ends things.
Rob Leviere added nine points and Kyle Clapper six for Dryden.
“Our legs weren’t there at certain times, but our intensity was always there,” said Miller, who hopes that carries over against an unbeaten Candor team ranked second in the latest Class C state poll.



Cortland CA girls reach playoff finals

Now the school hopes to get two teams playing for an Empire State Christian Athletic League basketball championship this coming Saturday.
Cortland Christian girls posted a 10-0 shutout in the fourth quarter to pull away from Maranatha Christian 38-28 in an ESCAL semifinal playoff contest on Monday.
Foul trouble hurt the visitors from New Hartford, while the second seeded Saints were led by Courtney Hall’s 12 points while improving to 15-2 on the season.
Sam Fuller added 10 points and 11 rebounds, Larissa Miller finished with nine points and Karyn Harding pulled down nine rebounds in the victory.
The Saints will meet the winner of the other semifinal game sending Baldwinsville Christian to Valley Heights in Norwich — Valley Heights the top seed. That title game Saturday is at a time and site yet to be determined.
Cortland Christian Academy boys are also looking to get to the playoff finals, the top seeds playing host to Baldwinsville Christian in a 5:30 p.m. semifinal playoff game this afternoon. Valley Heights is at Maranatha Christian in the other semifinal game.
Maranatha Christian (10-7) girls were paced by Jackie Arthur, who scored 10 points against the Saints. Devon McHarris tossed in six points.
But scoring threat Jennifer Mower was saddled with foul trouble from the get-go and managed just a pair of free throws before fouling out in the third quarter. Point guard Kalenna Kelly also fouled out for the visitors, who could not find the basket int he fourth quarter.
Maranatha Christian led just twice in the game, 18-17 at halftime and 24-23 in the third quarter, before being silenced in the final stanza.