February 16, 2008


Saints march to title


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Greg Buchanan of Cortland Christian Academy grabs a rebound as Roger Rose of Valley Heights and teammate C.J. Burnett reach for the ball during Friday’s ESCAL title game in Cincinnatus. The 6-foot-8 Buchanan grabbed 19 rebounds in 51-44 Saints victory.  

CINCINNATUS — When the defense stepped up in the second half, Cortland Christian Academy boys were able to capture their third straight conference basketball playoff title.
The second seeded Saints held top seed Valley Heights from Norwich to a pair of second half baskets and pulled out a 51-44 victory in this Empire State Christian Athletic Conference playoff final Friday night.
Foul trouble to key players hurt Valley Heights, the regular season champions who split a pair of regular season games against the Saints held to a single point in the third quarter.
Darren Miller had 14 points, Kyle Ripley 12 points and Greg Buchanan nine points, 19 rebounds and five blocked shots as Cortland Christian improved to 13-2 on the season.
While defending their playoff title, the Saints avenged recent regular season losses to both Baldwinsville Christian in the semifinals and Valley Heights in this championship affair held at Cincinnatus Central High School.
Both of those regular season losses came with senior sparkplug C.J. Burnett out with an injured ankle, Burnett returning for the playoffs and coming up with eight points, seven rebounds and six assists in this playoff victory.
Cortland Christian girls were not as fortunate, suffering game-long shooting woes while losing to top seed Valley Heights 40-21 to get this doubleheader underway. The Lady Saints shot just 15 percent from the floor for the game, making only 8-of-52 attempts.
IN THE BOYS’ FINAL, both teams came out shooting the basketball at a torrid pace. Valley Heights emerged from those opening eight minutes ahead 20-17, even though Miller had netted a trio of 3-pointers in that opening stanza.
Valley Heights (11-4) led 30-20 with three and a half minutes left to play in the second quarter when foul trouble proved costly. Roger Rose picked up his third foul and had to sit down and point guard Ryan Rose picked up his third and fourth foul — being whistled with a technical foul — and would not return until the fourth quarter.
With the two Rose brothers sat, the Saints went on a 22-3 scoring spurt that carried over into the opening possession of the last quarter.
Roger Rose had 18 points and Luke Halberg 13 points for Valley Heights. But after making a half-dozen 3-point shots while building a 22-18 first half lead, the top seeds went without a trey the rest of the way and got a lone second half point from Halberg.
Valley Heights did pull to within 48-44 on a pair of Roger Rose free throws with 15 seconds left to play. Buchanan, the 6-foot-8 senior who had a dominant performance on the backboards, fouled out on that play.
But Miller stepped to the free throw line twice in 1-and-1 situations and made 3-of-4 attempts to post the final points. He also added five assists for the Saints.
IN THE GIRLS’final, Cortland Christian (8-4) never found its shooting touch against Valley Heights (12-2). The Lady Saints scored a lone second quarter point and never recovered.
Valley Heights, which had beaten the Lady Saints twice by 9-point margins during the regular season, scored 16 unanswered points over one stretch to take control.
Hannah Vidler scored 18 points and Sarah Miedema added 12 for Valley Heights.

Courtney Hall had six points, Larissa Miler five and Karyn Harding four points for Cortland Christian, Harding also grabbed a team high 11 rebounds.




Playoff setback for CHS-Homer

MARCY — The Cortland-Homer hockey team stayed with host Whitesboro, the state’s second-ranked Division II team, for a good part of Friday night’s first-round sectional contest.
The Warriors, however, scored three times in the third period to break open a close game and got 15 saves from senior goalie Jack Lambe in a 4-0 win that ended the Golden Eagles’ season.
Senior forward George Hajjar led the way offensively for the winners, scoring twice, including a back-hander with nine seconds left in the opening period to give Whitesboro a 1-0 lead that stood up through the first two stanzas.
Nate Hughes made it 2-0 just 27 seconds into the third period, and David Husnay scored a power-play goal at 4:22 before Hajjar closed out the scoring 49 seconds later.
The winners piled up 40 shots to the 15 C-H managed, junior goalie Brett Kash making 36 saves on the night to help keep things relatively close.
“I can’t say enough about the effort the kids displayed tonight,” Cortland-Homer coach Don Armstrong said, his team finishing 11-14 overall on the season. “Whitesboro is big and strong, they can skate and they use a full three-line rotation. Certainly their first goal with so little time left on the first in the first was big for them, but with their size, speed and strength they do a good job of wearing down their opponent, and that is, at least in part, what happened to us.
“Brett Kash simply had another standout game, and from where he was at the beginning of the year to what he showed in this game, his transformation as a goalie has been remarkable. Defensively, our top four — Vic Marchetti, Corey Gibbons, Jack Spallone and Nate West — had excellent games. They all showed the steady play that has been their trademark for at least the second half of the season. Our first line of Steve Stowell, Matt Porter and Paul Zimmerman, although held scoreless, put forth a gutsy effort and the second and third lines played solidly as well. Sometimes you have to say you gave it your best and came up short, and tonight was that night for us.”
Armstrong praised the season-long efforts of the team’s six seniors, noting that five of the six have been with the team for four years. “The coaches have really enjoyed working with them and being part of their development over the years,” he said.
“Steve has been our top point-getter the last two years,”he added of third-year player Stowell, this year’s team scoring leader with 24 goals and 23 assists for 47 points. “Vic has been our go-to guy on the defensive corps and Jack really stepped up this year, playing a regular shift the entire season.
“Codie Garrison has such a positive attitude and tremendous work ethic, Andre Coen really developed into a physical force this year and, after being switched from offense to defense and back again and Sean McSherry did a great job of filling his role as our third-line center. Overall we played a very tough non-league schedule, which included four Division I teams, and we won 10 games in our division for the first time in a long time. The guys are, of course, disappointed, but the coaches feel that there was not much more they could have given in this one.”
Whitesboro, now 20-3-2, will host Corcoran, a 4-3 winner over Rome Free Academy Friday, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Clinton will visit Skaneateles in the other semifinal. Clinton beat Solvay 8-4 Friday, and Skaneateles was a 3-1 winner over New Hartford.
The championship game will take place at 1:30 p.m. a week from today at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.