March 05, 2007


Spartans run over CHS in final


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland High’s Tom Wilk looks for the basket with Hew Hartford’s Mike Kelly defending during Saturday’s Class A title game at Manley Field House.CHS fell, 67-43.

Staff Writer

SYRACUSE — It was a worst-case scenario come true for Mick Lowie and his Cortland High boys’ basketball team late Saturday afternoon and into the evening against New Hartford in the Section 3 Class A championship game at Manley Field House.
The coach of the sixth-seeded Purple Tigers had seen the No. 2 Spartans dismantle top seed — and then number one ranked in the state — Jamesville-DeWitt 59-49 in the semifinals last Friday at Manley. That was right before his squad advanced with a 58-47 win over No. 2 Indian River.
Lowie’s main concern was the Spartans’ speed and quickness, and he admitted that if the title game was fast-paced, he didn’t think his team could win.
The Utica-area squad lived up to its advance billing and then some, using good rebounding and team speed in a strong transition game to rack up an easy 67-43 victory.
“They did exactly what I was most concerned about,” said Lowie, whose team saw a brilliant post-season run end with the loss and finished 16-7 overall. “They out-rebounded us, got out and ran, and we knew darn well that if that happened it wouldn’t be a game. I thought we’d be able to rebound better.”
The Spartans cleaned the glass to the tune of a 41-32 advantage, the gap narrowing late in the contest.
“I also thought we could get into our offense a little better than we did,” added Lowie. “There was some confusion early in the game, and I don’t know why. We called two timeouts as much to get our kids calmed down as much as anything. I told them afterward, New Hartford was better team tonight. Maybe we could have beaten them yesterday, maybe tomorrow — but not tonight.”
New Hartford’s defense matched its offense in stepping up to the occasion with so much at stake. The white-clad winners played a triangle-and-one with a spy for a quarter and a half (followed by 1-3-1 and 3-2 zones) specifically to slow down guard Joel White. The senior had averaged 31.3 points per game in Cortland’s three previous sectional contests and hit a school-record eight three-pointers against Indian River.
White came in leading CHS in treys with 55 on the season, 18 of those in sectionals. In this outing he went 0-for-10 from the floor (eight of those shots from behind the 3-point arc) and was held scoreless in the first half. He finished with just three points, all on free throws when the outcome had already been settled. White did have five rebounds and five assists on the night.
“WE GOT EXACTLY what we wanted,” an ecstatic Spartans coach John Randall said after his team had improved to 20-4 on the season. “Mike Clifford was unbelievable defensively man-to-man against White, and everyone else fed off that. I told them that if we didn’t get stops, we couldn’t run. It was just a lot of focus defensively on everyone’s part. Ron Evans helped Mike out. We think White is that good, that we had two guys shade him. To hold him to no field goals is shocking.
“We also were able to battle (6-foot-8 Cortland senior center Tom) Wilk well underneath for rebounds and get easy basket after easy basket,” he added. “We’re as good a rebounding team as anybody. All of the kids we put out on the floor can rebound. Without a big kid we don’t have any one player to rely on, which makes everyone work harder.”
“We took a lot of outside shots, and those turned into long misses, then off they went,” said Lowie. CHS was 16-for-49 (33 percent) from the floor on the night — going just 3-for-17 on its 3-point attempts — to 24-for-52 (46 percent) for New Hartford, which didn’t score any points from further than 10 to 15 feet from the basket and missed all six of its 3-point tries.
“This was probably my worst game personally,” said White. “I wasn’t on my game tonight, and when I missed my first couple of shots tonight I dropped my head a little, which I probably shouldn’t have done. When my teammates saw that they did the same thing. I let the team down.”
Lowie put that notion in the proper perspective, noting that New Hartford’s ferocious defense had a lot to do with White’s, and CHS’s, lack of offensive success.
In addition, he said: “If Joel doesn’t average more than 30 points in our three sectional games, we’re not here. We’re not the second most talented team in Section 3 Class A, but the last two weeks we played that way — and Joel carried us.”
NEW HARTORD NEVER trailed in the game after scoring the first four points. CHS senior forward Kaywon Pittman — who scored 13 points on the night — canned the first of his two treys 1:35 in to make it 4-3 and get the Purple Tigers as close as they’d be from then on. But by the time Wilk, who led CHS with 18 points and 11 rebounds, scored inside 4:46 later, the Spartans had gone on a 12-0 run to account for the 16-5 score at the end of the first quarter.
Cortland did pull to within three, at 17-14, with 5:31 left in the first half after a basket by junior guard Levi Walrath, but a 17-7 run by the winners over the rest of the second — keyed by eight points from Evans — made it 34-21 at halftime.
White didn’t score his first point until he hit a free throw 2:27 into the third quarter, which made it 39-24 New Hartford. He also picked up his third and fourth fouls in rapid succession just after the midway point of the third, and sat into the fourth. Wilk picked up his fourth foul late in the third.
Neither player fouled out, and the outcome wasn’t affected much anyway, the game well under the Spartans’ control by the time those fouls were called.
Also illustrative of the kind of night it was for Cortland was a sequence just over two minutes into the fourth quarter. A foul against a driving Pittman was ruled intentional. After two missed free throws and an off-target 3-pointer by CHS, Spartans junior forward Mike Kelly was fouled while shooting and hit both free throws on the other end, making it 55-32.
Senior forward Alex Prue led New Hartford with 25 points and 12 rebounds, while guard Evans had 22 points and Kelly 10 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals.
“We were able to score a lot of points off their misses, pushing the ball up the court,” Evans said. “We don’t have much size, but we’re very athletic. We were able to shut Joel down — he’s a great player — and we were able to shut Wilk down too, at least for a while. Pittman had a couple of 3-pointers, which caught us by surprise.”
“In rebounding, what we lack in size we make up for in hard work,” said Prue, who noted that he plans to attend SUNY Cortland in the fall and play basketball, as his father Ed did under coach Al Stockholm. “We knew if we imposed our will and kept the game fast-paced that we’d be able to beat them, but 24 points is a pretty significant amount.”
NOTWITHSTANDING THE way it ended, Lowie was pleased with the season overall. He noted, as he had after the Indian River game, that he and his coaching staff were hoping only for a home sectional game and that making the title contest had never been discussed.
“The end of the Oneida game, plus the Utica Notre Dame and Indian River games, was as amazing a stretch of two and a quarter games as any team I’ve coached has had,” he said. Cortland rallied from a 57-50 deficit against 11th seed Oneida midway through the fourth quarter before eventually winning 68-62 in overtime and then won 80-68 on the road against third seed UND.
 “Joel played a big part in it, getting into a zone and scoring, but it wasn’t just him,” he added. “The others played better as well. We played good defense all year, but it was just tougher to do tonight against a faster team on a bigger court. To win 16 games and get to the sectional championship is a good season, and it all comes down to the kids.”
White wound up leading CHS in scoring for the season with 19.1 points per game, with Wilk next at 17.7. White was also the team leader in steals (120) and assists (127), and was second in rebounding with 143 to Wilk’s 235. Wilk also had a team-high 56 blocks.
New Hartford moves on to play Section 10 champion Massena in an 8 p.m. start Friday at SUNY Potsdam in a regional contest. The winner there will be back at Manley Field House this Saturday to face the winner of a game between the Section 2 and 7 champions in the 7:30 p.m. Central Region final.


Marathon’s Brown state champ

ALBANY — Devon Brown completed his successful run at the New York State High School Wrestling Championships Saturday with a pair of career highlights and a special moment for Marathon Central.
The Olympian sophomore won his first-ever state championship and notched his 100th career win in the process at the Times Union Center in Albany.
Brown was also one the first At-Large entries to win a state title. This year was the first year that at-large entries helped fill each of the brackets in an effort to eliminate first-round byes and increase the number of wrestlers getting a coveted shot at the gold medal.
Brown capped his 28-2 season by pinning Hauppauge freshman Stephen Dutton from Section 11 at the 2:16 mark to claim the Division I 119-pound state championship. The milestone win raised his career record to 100-8 and gave Marathon its first ever state mat champion.
“It was very exciting,” said Brown. “I am so happy to win states for the first and to get my 100th win at the same time.”
“It was an outstanding tournament for Devon,” said Marathon coach Jamie Bush. “He really peaked at the right time. Devon was very explosive and focused and he set out quickly to win every match.”
Brown said he took a different approach to his semifinal match this time around. He reached the semifinals in 2005, only to lose that match before fighting back to a fifth-place finish.
“I was not as nervous,” said Brown of the overnight wait before Friday’s quarterfinals and Saturday’s semifinals. “I spent the time relaxing and getting mentally prepared. I knew that I came out cautious two years ago in the semifinals. This time, I knew I would be more aggressive and go on the attack.”
That aggressiveness paid off as Brown began the day by pinning Wantagh junior Steven Bonanno from Section 8 at the 2:46 mark.
Now came something else new, a long wait from the mid-morning match until the championship finals that would begin around 6 p.m.
“I was nervous waiting for the finals,” said Brown. “I just tried to relax at the hotel and get mentally focused one last time. I did what I had to do in the match and it helped me win the title.”
“It was good that he got some time to rest between the semis and the finals,” said Bush. “I don’t think he slept much Friday night. I think knowing that he was going to be one of the top two wrestlers (at 119) in the state helped me relax and little and get focused for the final.”
In the championship match, Dutton played defense during the first period and stopped any shoots by Brown, finally scoring the takedown for a 2-0 lead.
“Devon felt at that time that Dutton was going to be tough to take down,” said Bush. “When Dutton choice bottom to start the_second period, Devon said let’s just finish_this now.”
Brown attempted to break him down, but Dutton just based out. Brown countered, came out front, locked him up and rolled him to his back for the pin just 16 seconds into the period.
The win was also a great conclusion to a tough season for Brown, who missed a number of matches after an injury in the Windsor Christmas Tournament.
“It does feel good to comeback from the injury and to win the state championship,” said Brown.
“Devon kept in shape during his time off the mat because of the injury,” said Bush. “He showed a little rust when he came back and that hurt him at sectionals, but he got the chance with the at-large bid and made the most of it.”
Devon Brown still has some big meets coming up this season as he will continue his mat action at the club level and train for some national tournaments. He also has some plans over the final two years of his Marathon career as well.
“I would like to return to states and win another title,” said Brown.
Brown received a hero’s welcome when he returned home Sunday, including the fire truck reception and escorted trip through the village.
As for Marathon senior Tyler Malmberg, who was eliminated Friday in the wrestlebacks at 125 pounds, Coach Bush offered these comments.
“Tyler really wrestled great in all three matches,” said Bush. “It was hurt by a tough second stalling call which cost him a 3-2 decision in his first match of the day. If that match had gone overtime, I think Tyler would have won and been on his way. He wrestled well in his first match in wrestlebacks, but faced Winky Shepard in the next round. Shepard upset the defending state champion and won a hard-fought 4-2 decision over Tyler. I was proud of what Tyler did this year and what he has meant to Marathon wrestling.”




’Jackets hold off Dragons

Sports Editor

Once you find yourself playing against a quality foe in the NCAA Division III basketball tournament, most 21-point deficits can be declared insurmountable.
That was the case for SUNY Cortland women, who found themselves in that precarious second half predicament Saturday evening while hosting the University of Rochester in a second round match-up.
The feisty Red Dragons did make things interesting, did get the home faithful at Corey Gymnasium perked up with a 15-point scoring spree that pulled them to within six points of their highly regarded guests.
That second half revival was short-lived, however.
Rochester responded to the challenge and pulled away in the late going for a 68-51 victory, spoiling what could have been a comeback for the ages. It was the third time in the past four years that the Yellowjackets have ended the Red Dragons season in NCAA tournament play.
The victory by this deep and determined Rochester squad not only concluded Cortland’s stellar 26-3 season — which included winning regular season and playoff titles in the SUNY Athletic Conference — but ended the Red Dragons’ school record 40-game home-court winning streak as well.
That’s not to say determination was lacking by the Red Dragons. Or as downcast senior back-up forward Erin Dabe said after her career at Cortland concluded: “Sometimes the team with the most heart doesn’t win.”
Dabe had closed the first half scoring on a lay-up off a Red Dragon fast break.
That was the first basket scored by the Red Dragons since the midway point of that opening stanza, when freshman forward Jessica Laing followed her own missed shot and scored to tie things at 13-13. After that Laing basket with 9:53 left in the first half, Rochester out-scored Cortland 19-5 to take control of matters. Before Dabe’s basket, three free throws were all the Red Dragons could muster over that decisive stretch.
No wonder Rochester coach Jim Scheible would say: “That was one of our best defensive halves we’ve had all year.”
The Red Dragons actually got early 3-point swishes from Sara Cavanaugh, Kerry Costello and Laing while taking early 6-2 and 9-3 leads. But by the time halftime arrived, the Red Dragons were shooting just 23 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 10 times to fall into a 32-18 hole.
“IF WE ARE going to do down, let’s go down fighting and give it all you have,” was Cortland coach Jeannette Yeoman’s halftime urging. “That is what we did and I’m proud of them for that.”
It proved to be too tough a task, especially for a Red Dragon squad that was not as deep at Rochester. The Red Dragons had expended plenty of energy the previous evening coming from behind to knock off Medaille College 72-67 in the opening round.
When asked if fatigue took a toll on her team, Coach Yeoman said: “That will happen, but you have to find a reserve from somewhere. To be honest, Rochester was just the better team tonight. They deserved to win.”
The Yellowjackets had five players in double figures, led by sophomore forward Julie Marriott’s 17 points and senior forward Danielle Muller’s 16 points. Both players were 7-for-8 from the free throw line, the victors out-scoring Cortland by 14 points from the stripe while going 21-for-27.
Megan Krebbeks and Alex Porter added 11 points each, Krebbeks making three shots from 3-point range and Porter grabbing a dozen rebounds. Point guard Emily Bango dished out eight assists and had six steals, and her only basket on the night — a 3-pointer with 1:52 left to play — was the knockout blow.
Cortland was within 61-51 at the time, and would not score again.




Sair has to settle for 2nd

DUBUQUE, Iowa — Stef Sair’s quest to become the first SUNY Cortland wrestler to win back-to-back NCAA Division III titles fell a point shy Saturday night.
Sair would be one of three Red Dragons to earn All-America honors — along with seventh place finishers Treavor LeBlanc at 174 pounds and Phil Archer at 197.
But in the 184-pound championship match at the Five Flags Center, the second-seeded Sair dropped a 3-2 decision to fourth-seeded Terrance Madden of Hunter College.
Sair, from Huntington, finished his career as a three-time All-American — including his national title at 174 pounds last year. He was a fourth-place finish at 174 as a sophomore.
Cortland tied for eighth in the final team standings with Hunter College at 31 points. Augsburg College of Minnesota won the team title with 135.5 points.
Sair won twice on Friday and opened Saturday’s schedule with an 8-2 win over third-seeded Romeo Dioumessi of Wartburg in the semifinals. That sent the Red Dragon into the final with Madden, who had upset top seed Jason Lulloff of Wisconsin-La Crosse 3-2 in his semifinal match.
After a scoreless first period, Madden used a second-period escape to take a 1-0 lead. Sair escaped quickly to start the third period to tie the match at 1-1, but Madden recorded a takedown 10 seconds after Sair’s escape to go up 3-1.
Sair was eventually able to escape with 26 seconds left to pull within 3-2, but was unable to record the winning takedown like he did in last year’s 174-pound title match.
Sair finished the season with a 22-3 record, with an 80-14 career mark. Not bad for someone who misses the start of each wrestling season because of his duties as an All-America safety on the Red Dragons football team.