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March 22, 2007

 

Clemson holds off SU comeback

Orange season ends with 74-70 loss

SU

Associated Press photos/Sefton Ipock
Senior Terrence Roberts covers his face as he leaves the court at the end of Syracuse’s 74-70 loss to Clemson in the quarterfinals of last night’s NIT tournament in Clemson, S.C.

By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer

CLEMSON, S.C. — Even as Syracuse stormed back, Clemson’s K.C. Rivers kept thinking one thing: Madison Square Garden.
“The only thing on my mind was going to the Garden,” Rivers said. “That’s all I was thinking about, ‘I’m going to go to the Garden.”’
Rivers guaranteed that Wednesday night, getting a career-high 29 points and Clemson (24-10) advanced to the NIT semifinals with a 74-70 win over Syracuse.
Rivers had been to New York before and gone past the famous arena lit up at night. He dreamed he’d one day get to play there. The past two NIT games, Clemson broke huddles with the shout “Garden.”
To do it, though, he and his Tiger teammates had to withstand a Syracuse rally that cut a 17-point deficit to 69-68 in the final seconds.
Again, remembering his goal, Rivers delivered. He hit a pair of foul shots with 18.5 seconds left to extend the lead. The Orange (24-11) could not answer.
“We played with our hearts and our minds today,” Rivers said. “We left everything out there.”
It was the Tigers’ ninth straight NIT victory at home. But this one did not come easily.
Syracuse trailed 69-68 on Demetris Nichols tip-in with 19.8 seconds left. However, Rivers, the team’s best free-throw shooter, hit both his foul shots.
Josh Wright’s open 3-pointer with about 10 seconds left bounced off the rim and into the arms of Tigers guard Vern Hamilton.
Hamilton followed with two foul shots to clinch the victory.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said there was too little time left to find another shooter. The Orange finished 3 of 16 on 3-pointers with Nichols making all three.
Boeheim said it’s difficult to come back from any deficit on the road.
“To come back (from) a lot, they showed a lot of heart.”
This is Clemson’s first trip to the NIT semifinals since 1999. Then, the Tigers were second to champ Cal. This time, they can keep a curious streak alive for the Palmetto State as they try and become the third straight South Carolina team — the Gamecocks won the past two NITs — to hold the trophy.
And it’s an unexpected run for the streaky Tigers. They opened the season 17-0 and were the last Division I team to lose. But they stumbled the rest of the way, going 4-10 to fall from NCAA tournament contention. Even a top seed in the NIT’s South region, guaranteeing three home games, wasn’t enough to rally the Tigers at first.
Three victories later, Clemson is flying high.
“We could’ve easily hung our heads in this tournament,” Rivers said. “But we didn’t. We fought all the way to the final four.”
Tigers fans stormed the court when the game ended. The Littlejohn Coliseum began flashing photos of Manhattan and the “world’s most famous arena,” while Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” played in the background.
Eric Devendorf had 23 points to lead Syracuse while Nichols added 20.
Certainly, this game didn’t look like it would have much drama.
Clemson, behind Rivers’ outside shooting that battered Syracuse’s matchup zone, grabbed a double-digit lead by halftime. When Raymond Sykes flew in for a crowd-pleasing jam, the Tigers were up 58-41 and planning their trip to the Big Apple.
But the Orange are familiar with MSG, too, staging many memorable Big East games there. They began aggressively taking the ball to the basket to chip away at the large lead.
Terrence Roberts had two foul shots, a tip-in and a dunk and Syracuse cut the deficit to 63-59 with 2:53 left.
Devendorf’s driving basket with 1:04 to go made it 67-66. Clemson reserve David Potter answered with a basket before Nichols’ basket with 19.8 seconds left again brought the Orange within a point.
That’s as close as Syracuse could get. Maybe Orange fans should take heart. The last time the team played in the NIT in 2002, it came back the next season with its NCAA championship.
Clemson coach Oliver Purnell thought his team’s NIT run showed that it deserved NCAA inclusion. But he didn’t think the selection committee lost “a lot of sleep over it,” he said.
Rivers, who had 21 points in the opening half, continually found open areas to take his 3-pointers.
Rivers had a three-point play to put Clemson ahead 21-14. After Cliff Hammonds hit a 3-pointer, Rivers followed with another from beyond the arc for a 27-14 lead.
When the Orange got back to 28-23, Rivers swished a spectacular 3 from the front edge of Littlejohn Coliseum’s mid-court tiger paw logo — estimated at about 30-feet from the basket.
Boeheim, frustrated with his team’s poor play, complained to the officials at the half’s end — and got a technical foul.
Before the second half began, Rivers hit the two foul shots to push Clemson’s lead to 40-27.
Rivers, a sophomore, topped his previous best of 24 points, set earlier this season against Appalachian State.
Air Force 52, DePaul 51: Jacob Burtschi scored 13 points, including the winning basket with 7.7 seconds left to send Air Force to the NIT semifinals with a 52-51 win over DePaul on Wednesday night.
Draelon Burns, who scored 18 points and had five 3-pointers, rimmed out a 3-pointer from the right corner at the buzzer after Burtschi missed a free throw following his layup, and the usually subdued crowd at Clune Arena stormed the court, their Falcons headed to the NIT Final Four and “New York, New York” playing over the loud speakers.

 

 

All-Star glow to Trojans tandem

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

After a solid 12-7 overall season, Homer Central girls had two volleyball players honored as OHSL Freedom Division First-Team All-Stars.
Sophomore outside hitter Katie Wick and sophomore setter McKenna Riley each received first-team recognition from the league coaches for their outstanding play.
Wick earned her second straight all-star designation after a solid season that saw her record 210 kills, 141 digs, 43 aces, seven blocks and three assists. Wick also received All-Section and All-State First Team selection in Class A.
Riley played outstanding team ball as well as she recorded 356 assists, 74 digs, 21 kills, 18 service aces and one block.
Joining Wick and Riley as Freedom Division first-team all-stars were Fulton seniors Katie Geers (setter) and Gabby Bono (libero); senior libero Rachel Sacks and junior right-side hitter Karina Greenhaigh from Jamesville-DeWitt; senior outside hitter Brittany Buskey and junior middle hitter Caitlin Santore of Mexico; Chittenango senior setter Chelsie Cox and Nottingham junior setter Megan Toole. Geers was named the Freedom Division Player of the Year, Sacks was the Libero of the Year and Caroline Richardson of Fulton was the Coach of the Year.
Homer and Cortland each had two Freedom Division Second-team all-stars. Purple Tigers seniors Kaitlin Anderson (middle hitter) and Kim Natoli (setter/hitter) were joined by Trojan senior libero Mary Phelps and junior middle hitter Shannon Keefe.
Rounding out the second-team all-star picks were East Syracuse-Minoa seniors Brittany Amsdell (middle hitter) and Alexandra Card (setter); Fulton senior outside hitter Michelle Beeman; Mexico senior setter Brittany Hains; Jamesville-DeWitt senior libero Alyssa Kessler and Chittenango senior setter Ashley Cox.
Honorable mentions included Homer senior outside hitter Jenn Warren; the Jamesville-DeWitt trio of sophomore outside hitter Meredith Howe, junior middle hitter Emily Halpin and sophomore setter Ally Chaiken; the Phoenix trio of senior middle hitters Megan Mahaney and Judy Grabowski, plus junior outside hitter Kiona Levea; senior middle hitter Christina Whitney and junior outside hitter Mollie Deuel from Nottingham; Fulton junior middle hitter Margaret Thorpe; Mexico senior outside hitter Sara Wood; Chittenango senior outside hitter Lindsey Toth and East Syracuse-Minoa senior middle hitter Courtney Bowhall.
Homer coach Brian Fox offers these comments on his first-team all-stars:
Fox on Katie Wick: “It’s pretty impressive to be named to a league all-star team as a freshman and sophomore. It’s extremely rare to find a player that’s as talented as Katie and also has the complete respect of her teammates. This is why she’s a team captain. The younger players look up to her and want to be like her. Katie’s ability to understand the game of volleyball is what really sets her apart from the rest. When a player understands the game it allows them to use their talent in the most productive way possible.”
Fox on McKenna Riley: “McKennahas come such a long way to a short time. This year was only her second year on varsity.Now that she knows what I expect and how I do things she feels more comfortable on the court. As her comfort level has increased so has her confidence. McKenna is learning how to take more of a leadership role. The team trusts McKenna and that’s why they follow her. Many of the coaches in our league were very impressed with McKenna’s improvement. With her continuing desire to improve along with her dedication to becoming the best she can be the sky’s the limit for her.”

 


 

TC3 to start up men’s lax program

DRYDEN — Tompkins Cortland CC will add men’s lacrosse to its list of varsity sports starting with the 2008 season.
A search is currently underway for a coach, athletic director Mick McDaniel noting that the hiring will hopefully take place soon in order to allow for sufficient recruiting time.
“The timing for adding men’s lacrosse to our family of intercollegiate sports could not be better,” McDaniel said. “We have the facilities, staff and commitment to build a tremendous program here at TC3. This will also give us the opportunity to reach out to the local community even more with camps and clinics while making the college more attractive to a new group of prospective student athletes.”
TC3 now offers 10 varsity sports, five each for men and women. The college is completing a multi-million dollar upgrade of its athletics facility, with a new gymnasium field house and a new lighted lacrosse and soccer stadium slated to be completed this summer.