February 22, 2007


Marathon boys prove to be worthy

Olympians pull off upset at Groton

Marathon Hoops

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Groton’s Paul Cooley tracks down a loose ball in the second quarter, as Marathon’s Matt Doran (left) and Peter Jackson (right) look on during Wednesday’s Class C first-round game. Marathon pulled off 47-43 upset.

Sports Editor

GROTON — It seemed a fair question.
People would approach Marathon Central boys’ basketball coach Jim Holland and wonder aloud why he would want to take his team into the Section 4 Class C tournament. After all, the Olympians had won a mere three games during the regular season.
“I didn’t think we were that bad of a team,” reasoned Holland. “Our record just didn’t show it.”
Well the Olympians proved their worth on Wednesday night, knocking off Interscholastic Athletic Conference Division III rival Groton Central in a 47-43 first round post-season upset.
Senior guard Tony Ortiz swished two critical 3-point shots during crunch time as part of a game high 17-point performance as the Olympians knocked off their cold-shooting Court Gymnasium hosts — avenging two regular season losses to the Indians in the process.
Marathon (4-16) certainly didn’t act like a 13th seed.
Stephen Birdsall, the Olympians 6-foot-5 sophomore center, added 10 points and some crisp passing to the victory. Cody Bellefleur overcame foul woes to add eight points including a pair of clutch free throws, 6-foot-3 senior forward Damien Stiles provided a spark off the bench as well as three baskets working inside and junior guard Matt Doran was a game-long pest especially pilfering loose balls and an occasional key rebound.
More important was the man-to-man defensive work that held fourth seed Groton in check, the Indians shooting just 24 percent from the floor and missing 18-of-20 shots taken beyond the 3-point arc.
“Nothing fancy, just old fashioned ball,” said Holland of the Olympians defensive work.
Senior Matt Cooley finished with 13 points to lead Groton, but struggled to find his shooting touch throughout the evening. Though he was 7-for-10 from the free throw line, he failed to make a 3-point shot.
“We didn’t shoot it and we lacked leadership on the court,” said Coach John Filzen after a 12-7 season ended for a Groton team that has two freshmen and a sophomore in the starting line-up. “Give Marathon all the credit. They out-prepared us, out-hustled us and out-rebounded us. They deserve all the credit they get.”
THIS GAME WAS an 8-8 standoff midway through the opening period. But the only basket over the final four minutes of that opening act was a shot in the lane by Groton frosh forward Kyle Reed with 1:49 left to play that put the hosts up 10-8 at the break.
Groton kept the lead thanks to a 6-for-8 free throw touch in the second quarter.
But Marathon did not go away, with Ortiz hitting a trey and twice feeding Stiles inside for lay-ups. Stiles also came up with a steal in the final seconds. And though he missed the chance to convert, Birdsall was there to follow up the miss and score to get Marathon within 20-19 at halftime.
When Birdsall showed some patience along the baseline to score the opening second half basket, Marathon was ahead to stay. Five free throws were all Groton could muster until junior forward Bryan Murray came on to score a couple of late baskets.
Still, Marathon took a 31-29 lead in the fourth quarter. And with Groton shooters still struggling, a Birdsall spin move in the lane and a Bellefleur floater on a drive into the lane provided two baskets that put the Olympians ahead 35-29.
Reed, who saw limited playing time because of foul problems, finally scored for Groton with 4:48 left to play. Murray worked the offensive boards for his third basket of the game and Cooley made a couple of free throws with 2:40 left to play and Groton was even at 35-35.
“They just don’t go away,” said Holland of the Indians. “As bad as they shot the ball, the just don’t go away.”
ORTIZ STEPPED when it mattered the most.
The 5-foot-9 guard made a crucial 3-pointer from a Doran assist with 2:20 left to play to break the deadlock, though Groton came right back down court to score nine seconds later when Cooley converted off a nice back-door cut.
Following a Marathon timeout, Ortiz was at it again — landing another 3-point bomb to put the Olympians ahead 41-37.
Cooley made one of two free throws after being fouled driving to the basket to trim the lead to three points. And after a Marathon turnover and Groton miss, the hosts dodged a bullet after an intentional foul was called after chasing down Ortiz.
With 47.2 seconds left, Ortiz missed both free throws. That made Marahton a mere 1-for-10 from the line at that point.
“I thought that was going to kill us,” said Holland of his team’s free throw woes.
But Ortiz broke free for a lay-up and Bellefleur made a pair of free throws and Marathon had a 45-38 lead with 24.8 seconds left and Groton was out of comebacks — though the Indians did get a late 3-pointer from Ethan Tilebein and a Peter Jackson put-back basket before an Ortiz free throw with two seconds left clinched the victory.
Marathon now moves on to quarterfinal round action and will visit fifth seed Unadilla Valley (14-6) on Saturday. Game time has yet to be determined. Unadilla Valley beat Elmira Heights Edison 54-40 last night.
Groton can only bid its seniors a fond farewell and hope its young talent learns from this frustrating setback.
“We didn’t do a lot of things right,” summed up Filzen. “There was nothing to say to them to leave the locker room feeling better.”


Dryden handles adversity

DRYDEN — Facing a little bit of adversity, Dryden High boys did more than hang tough.
Though senior big man Tim Finnerty suffered through foul trouble and managed to score just two points in Wednesday’s Section 4 Class B first round game, the Purple Lions still defeated Trumansburg 59-51 in an opening round home court tournament test.
Rob Leviere came up with 19 points, Kyle Klapper finished with 11 points and David Pargh tossed in 11 points as the seventh seeded Purple Lions beat their Interscholastic Athletic Conference Division I rival for the third time this season.
Though the 6-foot-4 Finnerty sat for a good chunk of the second half, the Purple Lions improved to 14-7 and advanced to a quarterfinal round match-up against second seed Binghamton Seton Catholic. The game is a 7 p.m. start Saturday in Binghamton.
Some 16-for-23 free throw shooting in the fourth quarter helped Dryden out-score 10th seed Trumansburg 22-14 over the final eight minutes to take control. Leviere had 10 of his points during that final stanza.
“We kept our aggressiveness on offense and defensively we out-scrambled them on the boards,” said Coach Dan Miller of how his team survived with Finnerty sitting. Jordan Minnis had nine rebounds and Pargh seven in the victory. “It’s nice to see we can do things without having our big person inside. To beat Trumansburg, our whole crew had to step up.”




Trojan Wilson wins State Qualifier race

SYRACUSE — Homer Central junior standout Heather Wilson is headed to the New York State Indoor Track Championships after winning the 1,000-meter run at the Section 3 State Qualifying meet Monday.
Wilson led the first lap with a 35-second split, but gave up the lead to Fayetteville-Manlius’s Hillary Hooley for three laps at Syracuse University’s Manley Field House. She made her move at the start of the final lap and turned in another 35-second split to win in 3:03.65 and earn a berth in the state meet March 3 at Cornell University in Ithaca.
Because of the weather, the sectionals were held Wednesday, two days after the state qualifier — both at Manley Field House.
Wilson turned in a time of 3:04.63 in the 1,000-meter race, good for second in a field of 11, and later ran a personal-best 43.78 to take third out of 13 in the 300-meter run. It was the first time she had run the event this season.
Sophomore Jessica Bramhall ran the 1,500m in 5:18.62 to finish third in field of 13. It marked the second time she had clocked in at 5:18 in the event this season.
Senior Shannon Ramiza qualified sixth for the 55m hurdles final with a clocking of 10.68 in the semis. She ran the same time in the finals and finished seventh.