February 29, 2012
Purple Tigers familiar with title game foe J-D
Familiarity won’t be a problem for either team Thursday at the Carrier Dome when the third-seeded Cortland High girls’ basketball team meets No. 1 Jamesville-DeWitt for the Section 3 Class A championship in an 8 p.m. start.
The two teams are OHSL Freedom Division rivals and have already played twice this season. The Red Rams (19-1, ranked eighth in the state in Class A) won both times, 43-39 in Cortland on Dec. 13 and 49-29 on their home floor Jan. 31.
“First of all we have to stop them from shooting 3-pointers,” Purple Tigers coach Dick Penoyer said when asked how his17-3 team that is ranked 21st in the state among Class A teams could emerge victorious this time around. “We also have to rebound better and force them into some kind of transition; a fast-paced game would be to our advantage.
“We’ve mixed our defenses, man-to-man and zone, pretty much all season; the last three or four games the man-to-man has really worked well. When we put the right combination on the court we’ve been getting a lot of steals and have made the plays we’ve needed to in crunch time. But J-D has eight kids who are really good basketball players and can handle the ball well. Their inside kids drive and play well, and they’re a good outside shooting team.”
According to Penoyer, a lot will depend defensively on how the larger court and arena — he was having his team practice at Cornell’s Barton Hall both Tuesday and today to help with the adjustment — affect the game. “I don’t think either team is going to shoot the lights out,” he said. “It’s going to be tough on the kids, with a lot different depth perception. We’ll mix and match defenses like we have been. If they’re hitting shots from outside, we’ll have to play man-to-man.
“In that case, we’ll match up differently with them from last time. Julia Babjack (junior guard) is going to play their best player, Kayleigh Cavanaugh (junior guard). Cavanaugh’s bigger, but Julia is faster. Maggie Brown (senior guard) will play (junior forward) Cydney Goodrum.”
“I’m sure it will be ugly early,” J-D coach Rob Siechen said of playing in the Carrier Dome. “It will be different, and there will be an adjustment period. We’ll see what happens as the game progresses.”
Siechen also sees positives coming from the venue, noting that “Our first game against them early in the season and on their floor, which is smaller than ours and allows them to more easily do the things they like to do defensively. We had 33 turnovers in that game and only 13 in our home game.
“But every game we have with Cortland is back and forth; the second game was decided in the fourth quarter (despite the final margin). They’re fun games to coach, but can give you an upset stomach, too.”
“The game at J-D was closer than the score indicates,” Penoyer said. “We did things in the fourth quarter to try to speed the game up and started fouling, and they hit some free throws and got some easy baskets. They’ll put a couple of players on Maggie and guard Devon Tennant (junior forward). Our other players will be open and will need to step up and make some shots. We missed a ton of easy shots around the basket in the first two games, including some fast breaks; we just have to make those count. If we’d done that in the first two games we could have won both of them.”
Siechen’s key to making it three-for-three against the Purple Tigers is simple.
“Containing Maggie, if possible,” he said, Brown leading CHS in scoring with 25.3 points per game. “We have to make her scoring opportunities as difficult as possible, and we have to make shots. I think the results of the first two games will give Cortland a little extra incentive, and we’ll have to do everything to keep our team from relaxing.
“If the game is close late our earlier wins might be a factor. But more importantly, we have confidence because we’ve had a lot of close games and done fairly well down the stretch.”
One difference this time around will be the presence of J-D senior forward Caitlin Cariseo, who was out with a knee injury and didn’t return until the game after the second win over Cortland. “She killed us last year,” Penoyer said. “She shoots well from outside, and forced us away from the basket defensively. I’ve watched her play a couple of times this season and she’ll make a difference; I’m just not sure how much. I’m not sure how much she’ll play.”
“Caitlin will come off the bench for us,’ Siechen said. “We’re not changing things up. She’s only played the last five games, but I think the way she’s starting to play, and her size (6-1) will help us defensively and with rebounding. She’s getting better offensively and in her confidence on the floor.”
Cavanaugh is J-D’s leading scorer with 15 points per game, with Goodrum next at 9.5. Senior guards Stephanie Mannion and Katie Maroney are next at 5.1 and 4.9 ppg, respectively. Goodrum is the leading rebounder with 7.6 a game, Cavanaugh right behind at 7.4. Senior forward Lauren Beville — the daughter of SUNY Cortland men’s lacrosse coach Steve Beville and the sister of Red Dragon women’s lacrosse sophomore midfielder Liz Beville — averages 4.4 rebounds a contest.
Maroney is the assists leader with 2.3 a game, with Cavanaugh at 2.1. Cavanaugh averages a team-high 3,3 steals a contest, while Goodrum is at 1.9, Mannion 1.8 and Maroney 1.7.
Tennant averages 8.5 points a game to complement Brown. The same tandem leads the Purple Tigers in rebounding, Brown with 12.9 a game and Tennant with 7.8. Brown also leads in assists (2.9 a contest) and steals (5.3), with Babjack next in both categories with 1.3 assists and 1.7 steals a contest.
Brown scored 26 points in last Wednesday’s 43-35 semifinal win over No. 2 New Hartford to become the top scorer in the history of the Cortland High girls’ basketball program with 1,494 points, two more than Amy Sherry, who graduated in 1991. That, according to Penoyer, will be a boost for Brown and her teammates on Thursday night.
“I think she thought about (the record) a little the last game, but I think she’ll be more relaxed,” he said of his star player. “She’ll worry more about winning, just like she did last time. Winning is more important.
“If the game is close, they’ll go to Cavanaugh just like we’ll go to Maggie.”
Thursday’s winner will face Section 10 champion Massena (15-3, tied for 25th in the state) a week from today in the first round of the NYSPHSAA Class A Tournament, that contest at SUNY Potsdam’s Maxcy Hall starting at 6 p.m. The winner of that one will in turn go against the Section 2 champion (Averill Park or Scotia) at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, with the date and time to be determined.
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