March 2, 2012
Red Rams’ depth sinks CHS
Purple Tigers fall in ‘A’ final despite Brown’s 24 points
SYRACUSE — Balance was the key Thursday night as the Jamesville-DeWitt girls’ basketball team beat Cortland High 47-38 at the Carrier Dome for the Section 3 Class A championship.
While senior guard Maggie Brown scored 24 of the third-seeded Purple Tigers’ points, the No. 1 Red Rams got 14 points from junior forward Cydney Goodrum, 13 from junior guard Kayleigh Cavanaugh and 11 from senior guard Stephanie Mannion. Cavanaugh was named MVP of the tournament, while Brown and Goodrum made the all-tourney team along with New Hartford junior forward Ashley Chanatry and Carthage junior forward Zakiya Saunders.
“J-D has a lot of weapons, five or six kids who can score at will and make you pay,” CHS coach Dick Penoyer said, his team having closed the season at 17-4, with three of the losses to the Red Rams. “How Maggie goes is how we go. It was a typical game for us. We didn’t score a lot of points and Maggie did a lot of our scoring. She plays at a different level of intensity than most kids.
“They blistered us underneath with their dribble drive and took the ball to the hole. We played really tough man-to-man defense, especially coming back after being down by 17, but we got tired at the end,” he added.
“Maggie is a great player,” said Red Rams coach Rob Siechen, whose team is now 20-1. “We tell our players that when we play them it’s five against one. She takes the majority of the shots, and we have to work to contain her. To their credit, they had some other kids who stepped up and hit some shots. Number 21 (junior forward Devon Tennant) and number 11 (junior guard Julia Babjack) had good-3-pointers.”
Most of the scoring in the game, however, came from from inside, on drives by Brown as well as Goodrum.
“Our coaches talk all the time about how Cydney’s the hardest kid to guard,” Siechen said. “She’s so quick. You get on her, and she goes right around you.”
“WE PRACTICED THAT all week. You have to rebound the ball, go down and then back up strong and not stop until you hear a whistle,” said Goodrum, who also had a team-high 12 of the winners’ 35 rebounds — to 41 for Cortland, Brown with 12 and Tennant with 10. “They gave us a run; every game we know that the other team is going to come after us with all they have.
“We knew what Cortland could do after playing them twice. It’s hard to beat a team three times, and I don’t think we got much confidence from having beaten them twice,” he added, J-D winning 43-39 at Cortland at 49-29 at home during the OHSL Freedom Division regular season. “It wasn’t a cakewalk; we had to work hard.”
“We had to stay calm and get the ball inside,” Cavanaugh said. “We got a lot of fouls on them, and were able to make a lot of foul shots (13-for-19). We just had to do what we do to beat them for a third time; everyone worked hard.”
“We got off to a fast start, then fell behind,” said Brown, who scored the Purple Tigers’ first eight points to key them to a 10-8 lead after the first quarter and also had four steals on the night. “It’s my senior year, so I just knew I had to do whatever I could to get us back in it. My game is pretty much driving the ball to the basket; that’s what I do. They tried to take that away, but it’s my go-to move.”
A lay-up by Brown with 5:04 left in the first half gave Cortland an 18-14 lead, but from there J-D got an inside basket and a pair of free throws off another drive from Mannion, plus two free throws from Cavanaugh, to take a 20-18 lead with 3:27 left. Eighth-grade guard Jackie Phillips hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 20 with 1:47 left, but in that time remaining J-D scored two baskets inside and three free throws to take the lead for good, up 27-20 at halftime.
“Where we fell apart was at the end of the first half,” Penoyer said. We’re tied, then suddenly we give them a couple of easy baskets and some free throws and are down by seven at halftime. If it had been closer at the half it would have been a different game. We had to scramble after that, but we’ve done a lot of that this season.
“Give J-D credit. They did a nice job, and should go far in the state tournament.”
IT LOOKED LIKE the issue was settled after the Red Rams rolled to a 40-23 lead with 3:55 left in the third, Goodrum with seven of her team’s 13 points in that stretch and brown with all three of CHS’s points. The Purple Tigers, however, scored the last 10 points of the stanza — eight by Brown, including a layup at the buzzer — and trailed by just seven 40-33, entering the fourth.
Both teams came up empty on their first possessions of the fourth before a key turning point, Mannion draining a 3-pointer from the right elbow to make it 43-33 with 47 seconds gone in the quarter, ending a scoreless string of 4:42 for her team.
“We played really tough man-to-man defense, like we have all year, and took way the outside,” Penoyer said. “But that three by Mannion just killed us. We knew we couldn’t foul them, because they’re good with free throws, and they just beat us flat-out going to the basket.”
“Stephanie’s shot was huge,” Siechen said. “We hadn’t scored in a long time. It’s tough shooting on this floor. We struggled with mid-range jumpers, so we had to dribble inside. we don’t have a bask-to-the-basket post player, but everyone can put the ball on the floor.”
Cortland wasn’t quite done yet, though. Neither team scored again until Brown hit a jumper from the line with 4:43 left to end a CHS scoreless strong of 3:17 and make it a 43-35 game. Tennant then connected on her 3-pointer from the top of the key with 3:02 left to make it 43-38 and fire up the Purple Tigers’ fans, who outnumbered their J-D counterparts.
But that turned out to be the end of CHS’s scoring, J-D hitting a trio of free throws before Goodrum finished out the scoring, going back up with a rebound for a layup with 14.5 seconds left.
“This has been a good team since I took over,” said Siechen, now in his seventh season as the Red Rams’ coach head coach. “This is our second time in the finals in that time, but every year we’ve lost to the team that ended up winning the championship. We had a lot of former players here tonight, and this win was for them, too.”
J-D OPENS STATE tournament play Wednesday night, facing Section 10 champion Massena at Potsdam State.
Brown finished her high school career as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,518 points. “I’ve been on this team with a lot of different girls,” she said, having first come up for the sectionals as an eighth-grader. I’ve learned a lot about basketball and life from coach Penoyer, and made a lot of friends. Our fans have always been great with their support, and I really appreciate that.”
“It’s been nice to see the progress Maggie has made since eighth grade,” Penoyer said. “She’s worked hard. As a coach, you’re lucky to get two or three kids in your life who have the outstanding athletic ability that she does. I’m sure she’ll have a good college career at LeMoyne.
“This team has a lot of young kids, and the question is where the offense is going to come from (next season).”
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