March 21, 2007


Syracuse headed into Tigers’ den


Associated Press/Kevin Rivoli
Andy Rautins will be a key part to Syracuse success tonight in Clemson.

AP Sports Writer

SYRACUSE — When they walked off the court Monday night with a memorable victory, the Syracuse Orange lost that important home-court advantage. Now it’s into the den of the Clemson Tigers.
Not a big deal.
“We’re just glad we have another opportunity to play,” said senior forward Demetris Nichols, who leads the Orange in scoring at 19 points per game. “We’ll be ready.”
Eight days after the Orange were bypassed by the NCAA selection committee, they took another step toward returning to Madison Square Garden and winning the NIT title, defeating San Diego State 80-64 on Monday night in a second-round game.
The contest attracted the largest crowd in the NIT’s 69-year history — an orange-clad swarm of 26,752. The fans braved sleet, snow and a biting March wind to give the team’s four seniors — Demetris Nichols, Terrence Roberts, Darryl Watkins and fifth-year man Matt Gorman — a fitting send-off in the final home game of their careers.
“It’s just an all-around good feeling, a great way to send them off,” said sophomore Andy Rautins, who scored 15 points, all on 3-pointers. “It was electric. The fans are so loyal to us.”
While Syracuse (24-10) was taking care of the Aztecs, freshman Trevor Booker was scoring a career-high 21 points to lead Clemson (23-10) to its eighth straight NIT home victory, 89-68 over Mississippi.
Tigers coach Oliver Purnell said his players have gradually shown increased desire after also being passed over for the NCAA tournament.
“As the tournament goes along and teams really get into it, it seems like each half our guys are more excited about it,” Purnell said Tuesday in a conference call.
Clemson, the South region’s No. 1 seed, gets the chance to extend its Littlejohn Coliseum winning streak — which coincidentally began after an Ole Miss victory there in the 1982 NIT — when it hosts second-seeded Syracuse in the most Orange of tournament quarterfinals on Wednesday night.
“We have the advantage of being the No. 1 seed and being at home,” Purnell said. “But it only becomes an advantage if we play well. We have been. Hopefully, today’s practice, from a mental standpoint, will be a good one.”
Ole Miss couldn’t handle Clemson’s defensive pressure. The Tigers forced 24 turnovers, more than double the Rebels’ season average. The Orange have been mistake-prone most of the season, averaging 15 turnovers a game. However, after committing 11 that led to 12 points for San Diego State in the first half, the Orange had only four turnovers in the second half and the Aztecs failed to convert any into points.
“It was one of the best games of the whole year,” Nichols said. “We passed the ball a lot. We played team basketball. It was a good win.”
Purnell was concerned about facing Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, which held San Diego State to 35.9 percent shooting (23-for-64). He also was worried about defending the Orange’s outside shooters (primarily Nichols, Rautins and Eric Devendorf), who made six 3-pointers in the first half and finished 9 of 25 for the game against the Aztecs.
“Rautins coming in over the last several games has become a big-time threat,” Purnell said. “That’s giving them three tremendous weapons on the perimeter. We’re just going to try to do what we do, play our style. We hope it will turn Syracuse over some. We’ve found when we play with energy we can turn people over. If we can turn those into points, then it really pays dividends.”
The Tigers had hoped for a better fate than the NIT, particularly when they were the last undefeated team in the country, going 17-0 before losing. But a 4-10 finish took them out of NCAA tournament contention.
The motivation for both teams is identical — they belonged in the NCAA tournament.
“We want to prove to ourselves that we were good enough,” Syracuse freshman guard Paul Harris said, “We’ve got to keep going.”



Purple Tigers highlight best of winter campaign

Cortland High’s winter athletes were recently honored at their respective teams’ year-end award functions.
Following is the list of individual special honorees for each squad, with coaches’ comments on their MVPs. No cheerleading awards were given.
Coach: Mick Lowie
Most Valuable Player: Joel White, Tom Wilk
Most Improved Player: Derek Allen
Coaches Award: Kaywon Pittman
Lowie on White (senior guard): “A three-year varsity basketball player and two year captain, Joel, an MVP for the second straight year, led the team in almost every offensive and defensive category. He was the team’s leading scorer with 440 points, third-highest in Cortland basketball history, averaging 19.1 points per game.  He also became the eighth-highest career scorer in school history. Joel became the school’s all time leading 3-point shooter this season with eight vs. Indian River (highest individual single game), 55 (highest single season), 104 (highest career total).
“Since we have been keeping records other than scoring since November of 1995, Joel became the single-season assist leader with 127, career assist leader with 272, single-season steal leader with 120 and career steals leader with 250. He also became the third-highest career rebound leader with 327. Statistics aside, Joel was equally valuable as our team leader. He made everyone on our team play better and his unselfish style of play created strong performances by many of his teammates resulting in a most successful season for our team.”
Lowie on Wilk (senior center): “Tom’s versatile inside and outside play made him very difficult for opposing centers to defend. Tom scored 408 points, the fifth-best single season in CHS school history, averaging 17.7 points per game. He was also our leading free throw shooter, 69-96 at 72 percent, and this season’s leading rebounder with 235 (thesingle season school record since we have been keeping these stats in 1995). On the defensive end, Tom was able to block 56 shots and change countless others as his teammates tried to force everything toward him. His rebounding and shot blocking abilities were one of the main reasons we were able to hold opponents to 52 points per game. Because of Tom’s scoring abilities, he was most often double- and triple-teamed inside, making his success even more impressive.”
Coach: Dick Penoyer
MVP: Shannon Finucane
MIP: Courtney Tennant
Coaches: Natalie Khazzaka
Penoyer on Finucane (junior point guard): “Shannon has been our most valuable player for three years in a row.  She is our team leader both on and off the court as our captain. Every team needs to have at least one or two players who love to play basketball to be successful and Shannon is one of ours.  She has great offensive and defensive skills which makes her a great point guard.”
Coach: Dave Darrow
MVW: Dan Foster and Coty Cute
MIW: Josh Morehouse
Coaches: Clint Morse
Darrow on Foster (sophomore): “Dan went 41-4 on the season with 163 takedowns. Three of his four loses were to state place finishers, and his last loss he avenged during the overall Division I sectional tournament, beating Collin Toney from Mexico 7-3 to finish third at 160. He had a great season, and should be one of the best in the section next year.”
Darrow on Cute (junior): “Coty went 35-7 on the season with 75 takedowns and 13 pins He was a great captain and team leader, and had a strong sectional (overall Division I) finish, third at 171. He should also be one of the best in the section next year.”
Coach: Don Armstrong
MVP: Steve Stowell (CHS) and Brian Frankel (Homer)
MIP: Paul Zimmerman (Homer).
Coaches: Ian Gutchess (Homer).
Armstrong on Stowell (junior forward): “Steve had some great games in the scoring department last season, but became a much more consistent scorer this season (team-high 26 goals plus 21 assists for 47 points to lead C-H). With the loss of Taylor Brown halfway through this season, Steve moved from left wing to center and did a great job adjusting to the position change. He is very coachable and a pleasure to be around. He is learning to use his size to his advantage and is developing his game at both ends of the ice. His effort is outstanding and although not one of our ‘named’ captains he provided much of the additional leadership that every successful teams needs.”
Coach: Mary Lou Bordwell
MVP: Katelyn Anderson, Kim Natoli
MIP: Brittany Babcock
Coaches: Kaitlyn Glover
Bordwell on Anderson (senior middle hitter): “A three-year varsity player, Katelyn was second on the team with 88 percent of all serves in, second on team with kills, third on team with digs. She was the mentally tough player of the team. She expected herself to be on time, work hard, learn everything she could, understand all positions, and expected this from all her teammates. She took many a younger player and mentored them through something that may be troubling to them.  Last year she really struggled with her timing on attack and especially blocking. She would be up and down before the ball would come over the net. She improved here more than anyone.  Truly the mental work ethic leader of the team.”
Bordwell on Natoli (senior utility): “Kim, who was on the varsity for two years, played setter more than half the season. She then played some outside hitter and defensive specialist for the sectional game. With her game sense, quick reaction time, and excellent skills, she led the team on defense.  Kim was the never-say-die player. She ran into the bleachers more than once to save a ball, and one time was near the bleachers, with her back to the net, and put the ball over the net to keep it in play.  She was the first player on the team to look for spots on the other side of the net and try to hit them. Kim played through illness many, many times. Kim was the emotional player of the group.”
Coach: Kathy Ferris
MVP: Anthony Pitts
MIP: Andrea Turcsik
Coaches: Nick Becker
Ferris on Pitts (senior): “Anthony had his best season ever, averaging 209.  He was more consistent this year than the last three years and worked very hard to guide the younger, less experienced team members.  He was one of the main forces behind the team’s 9-5 record.  He was named to the All-League second team, missing first-team status by less than two pins in average.”



County to honor Brown

State wrestling champion Devon Brown from Marathon will be honored by Cortland County legislators on Thursday.
The Olympian captured the New York State Division I title at 119-pounds earlier this month in Albany, Brown capping an 28-2 season with a second period pin over Stephen Dutton of Hauppauge in the finals. The sophomore has a sparking 100-8 career record.
The legislators will honor Brown at 5:30 p.m. on the third floor of the Cortland County Office Building, offering of proclamation of the accomplishment.
Earlier the school year, the Cortland Country legislators honored the Marathon Central field hockey squad after they captured the Class C state title.