February 19, 2014
Purple Tigers moving on
Suggestion helps beat Whitesboro
A halftime defensive suggestion by assistant coach Francis Loiacono paid off for the Cortland High boys’ basketball team Tuesday night in its Section 3 Class A quarterfinal game with Whitesboro at Shafer Gym.
The two teams were tied 36-36 at halftime, but the fourth-seeded Purple Tigers scored the first seven points of the third quarter — in what proved to be the final margin — and never looked back in a 66-59 win that ended the fifth-seeded Warriors’ season at 13-6.
“I give Francis all the credit,” CHS coach Jeremy Milligan said after his team had improved to 14-5. “We were still using a half-court press, but changed to have one of our bigs guard the middle man. We knew they had one solid guard in T.J. Borza. He’s a very impressive athlete. Once we were able to get the ball out of his hands, it was to our advantage. We also played some man-to-man, picking him up full-court.
Junior Borza finished with 18 points, nine of them, including a pair of 3-pointers, in the second quarter, when the visitors used a 25-18 advantage to rally for the halftime deadlock. He was held to five points in the third, when CHS took control, and four in the fourth.
Another key factor for Cortland was the fact that senior guard Zach Whelan was on target from long range, hitting five of his seven shots from behind the arc and finishing with a game-high 21 points.
“We had a discussion with Zach and told him that we needed him to be able to make better shot selections,” Milligan said. “In addition to his threes he was perfect from the foul line. He definitely came to play.”
“I had a good game, finally,” Whelan said, who was 4-for-4 from the line. “I haven’t been scoring a lot lately at all, so I’m pleased that I had a pretty good game and made some shots. I think running our halfcourt 21 (defense) with the halftime adjustments definitely made a difference. We started scoring early in the third and didn’t look back from there.”
JUNIOR POINT GUARD Sage Brown had 17 points and junior forward Quinn Kennedy 10 for the winners. Brown also had a team-high seven rebounds and Whelan added six as the Purple Tigers had 31 boards to 34 for Whitesboro.
“We came out in the second half and played intense defense,” Brown said. “We shut down their 3-point shooter (Borza) and took it to them. I just try to keep everyone positive and play real good defense, which leads to offense. That’s true for the whole team.”
“We tried to guard Whelan and Brown with a triangle and two defense, but they hit some tough shots,” Whitesboro coach Steve Heitz said. “That 7-0 run to start the third was big.
“Cortland is a nice team. They pass very well and are unselfish. Their bigs are very skilled. Our scouting report said that we had to try to be more physical with them. We did a decent job early, but we also missed some chippies and some free throws. But give credit to them, they’re a very good team and it was a good high school game.”
“Whitesboro keyed on Zach and we were still found ways to get him the all,” Milligan said. “He moves well without the ball.”
Cortland led 18-11 after the first quarter after trailing 9-8 just past the midway point. Whitesboro opened the second with a 13-3 run to take 24-21 lead, and led four twice — 27-23 and 29-25 — before the hosts stormed back to take a 32-29 lead with 1:21 left on a layup by Brown.
AFTER A CLASSIC three-point play from junior guard Luke Moore enabled Whitesboro to tie the score, and after two free throws by Brown and a layup by senior guard Qadir Artis made it 36-32 for CHS Moore, who scored 10 of his 15 points in the second, canned a trey, was fouled and hit the free throw for a four-point play to forge the 36-36 halftime tie.
A layup by Whelan, a driving basket by Brown and a 3-pointer by senior guard Eamonn Mahar accounted for the 7-0 Cortland run in the first 2:30 of the third quarter that gave the hosts the lead for good. The Purple Tigers led 54-47 heading into the fourth and led by as much as 14, 63-49, in the fourth before a late run by the visitors made the final score more respectable.
Senior forward Vin Cotrupe scored 16 points to join Borza and Moore in double figures for the Warriors. No other individual statistics were available for the visitors.
Next up for CHS is top-seeded Jamesville-DeWitt (17-2), a 75-49 winner over No. 8 Fowler Tuesday, in a 4:15 p.m. semifinal matchup Saturday at Onondaga CC’s SRC Arena. The winner will meet the survivor of the other semi, pitting top seed Bishop Ludden (17-2) against No 4 Carthage (18-1) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at SRC Arena. The Red Rams beat Cortland handily both times the teams met in the regular season.
“We’re excited to go back to OCC,” said Milligan, whose team lost to Ludden at SRC in last year’s Class A semifinals. “J-D shot the ball very well against us both times this season. We’re going to have to apply a little more pressure to their shooters; maybe the big arena, with the stanchion baskets, will throw them off a little. We relish the opportunity to take on the top seed.”
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