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July 26, 2007

 

These ‘Boys of Summer’ are aging well on court

boys

Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Mark Wainwright eyes the basket during his 18-point performance for Red Jug Pub in a rare Summer League loss Wednesday.

By ALAN BUTLER
Sports Editor

The proper and polite thing has always been to respect your elders, even on a basketball court.
In the case of the Red Jug Pub basketball team performing this summer in the 2007 Cortland Youth Bureau Summer League, you also have to be at your best to keep up with this collection of cagers who continue to perform at a high level against much younger competition.
“Usually, they’re half our age,” said 48-year-old Tim Phillips of the players his Red Jug Pub squad regularly goes up against these days.
Don’t let the graying hair fool you. These feisty, proud and combative guys — who played for years and years for the recently sold Rusty Nail in summer and winter leagues on local courts — can more than hold their own. Tim Phillips estimates that over the past 20 years of play, this team has won 70 percent of the time.
The quest this summer is capturing a fourth consecutive Post High A Division championship, with playoffs scheduled to settle that issue next week.
In this final week of the regular season, that ambitious goal would take a hit Wednesday evening at Cortland’s Beaudry Park as the third place Red Jug Pub squad was nipped 54-52 by Gator’s Tavern/Elks Club. Tom Neugebauer, the 34-year-old former Cortland High center who now serves on the coaching staff at his alma mater, led the victors with 18 points.
Neugebauer knows how hard it is to beat these veterans.
“They have played with each other for so long, they know what each other is going to do all the time. You have to play as smart as they do, and tonight we did,” said Neugebauer, his squad going the distance with just five players. “They’ve got a few years on us and they’re in better shape. I don’t know how they do it.”
Cortland native Jon Phillips is the elder statesman on this Red Jug Pub squad at 50 years of age, though the Rusty Nail team of a few years back had productive players like Bill Williams and Paul Gower (teammates on the 1964-65 Homer Central squad that won a sectional title) who were even older. Jon Phillips figures he has been playing summer ball on Cortland courts since seventh grade, a span of 32 seasons.
“Play with the right people,” is how Jon Phillips explains the team’s success, pointing to former Marathon Central and SUNY Cortland standout Mark Wainwright. One of the youngsters on this team at 44, Wainwright would score 18 points in this setback though his bid for the tying basket in the final seconds would be thwarted.
“Kids have talent. They don’t always play smart,” Jon Phillips would add, pointing out the biggest Red Jug Pub edge.
THE PHILLIPS BROTHERS, Wainwright, guards Doake Brown (48) and Don McEvoy (48), Groton High head coach John Filzen (48) and his former assistant Jim Grieger (45) and Larry Forker (43) make up these “Boys of Summer” — with similarly aged big man Randy Burt a big part of the squad, too.
“Collectively, we’ve been playing over 20 years,” says McEvoy, the former Marathon Central all-around athlete who also serves as a referee for Division III contests and has blown his whistle at several games at SUNY Cortland’s Corey Gymnasium. “Sometimes we played against each other in the good old days. When we all played town ball, we played against each other.”
McEvoy has been putting in more time than usual with the team this summer, having stopped playing fast pitch softball.
Wainwright pointed out the team sometimes competes in Over 40 or Over 45 tournaments, and playing in local leagues helps them prepare for those events. “Playing younger and quicker guys really helps you,” he said.
This team knows how to move the ball, which was evident early when crisp ball movement against the zone defense employed by Gator’s/Elks Club produced open jump shots Grieger and McEvoy converted into baskets. Soon, Gators/Elks Club would abandon the zone.
These old guys don’t rest on defense, either. They play aggressive man-to-man, showing a knack when to double team and create turnovers. And when the fast break offers itself, off they go.
But things are a bit ragged at times on this evening, and several open shots failed to drop. Or as Wainwright complained coming off the court for a breather: “We’ve had a week off and it looks like a year off.”
Gator’s/Elks Club grabs a 28-25 lead at halftime. And though a 3-pointer by Jon Phillips puts Red Jug Pub ahead 40-39 with 11 minutes left to play, that is the last time his side would be ahead in the second half.
Down 48-42, Red Jug Pub would come up with a defensive stand and pull to within a point. And when opponent Fred ‘Bear’ Marshall made only one of two free throws with less than 10 seconds to play for a two-point lead, Red Jug Pub had one final chance.
Wainwright got off a couple of contested shots in heavy traffic in the paint before time ran out.
THE PLAYERS CIRCLED up following the loss, talking of too many turnovers as the main culprit on this occasion. Defeat still stings for this competitive bunch.
They have a make-up game upcoming on Friday against first place Cortland Granite — a younger bunch of recent Cortland High graduates like brothers Joel and Steve White and 6-foot-5 Brennan Mack. The league leaders have already been talking smack, they note.
And where else can you find a game that will send father Larry Forker head-to-head against son Andrew Forker?
It will be another game, another challenge for this aging group — who despite rumors plan to keep on playing. “You stop playing and your stuff freezes up,” said Wainwright.
“It keeps you young,” adds Tim Phillips.

 

 

Zach, Carr mound masters

The top two teams in the Cortland Fast Pitch Softball League relied on strong pitching performances to maintain the status quo Wednesday.
Denny Zach threw a three-hitter as Amelia’s Ristorante stayed on top by percentage points with a 5-1 win over The Tavern, while Jeff Carr allowed only two hits as King Sub beat Mr. B’s 8-3.
The night’s other game saw Central City Bar & Grill romp past Mr. B’s 14-4 in a five-inning mercy rule contest.
Amelia’s Ristorante 5, The Tavern 1: Zach chalked up four strikeouts in shutting down the defending champions, Amelia’s improving to 11-4 and keeping its slim lead (.733-.706) over King Sub (12-5).
Jared Wood went 3-for-3 with a double and three RBIs for the winners as the only player on either team with more than one hit. Sean Caughey, Abe Johnson and Sean Collyer also doubled for Amelia’s, while Ryan Stevens’ triple was one of The Tavern’s three hits.
King Sub 8, Mr. B’s 2: Carr fanned six in improving to 9-2 on the season, not allowing any hits until a fifth-inning single by Shane Cameron. Adam Koehler led the King Sub offense, going 2-for-2 with a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored.
Waylon DeGraw 2-for-3 with a double and scored twice, and Paul Sweger was 2-for-4 with a triple, an RBI and a run. Joe Hubbard had the only other hit for Mr. B’s.
Central City Bar & Grill 14, Mr. B’s 4: Two five-run innings propelled Central City to the easy win, as Josh Zach led the 13-hit attack by going 3-for-3 with an RBI and three runs. Seth McMahon (RBI, three runs) and Dave Holland (RBI, run) both went 2-for-3 for the winners, and Mike Lowie was 2-for-3 with a triple, two RBIs and a run and Ryan DuBois doubled and scored three runs. Dennis Howe went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run for Mr. B’s.

 

 

 

Anecelle’s firms up grasp of first

Anecelle’s moved one step closer to the Cortland Women’s Slow Pitch Softball League D Division regular-season with solid defense and some solid hitting during a 9-1 softball win over second-place Millennium Marketing.
Anecelle’s improved to 10-1 while Millennium slipped to 6-2.
In another D Division game, Lucky’s Too topped Homer Logging 6-2 while, in a D-E crossover game, Lucky’s dumped Easy Street 18-1 in five innings.
In E Division action, King Sub/Groton Fitness outslugged Ho-Beau’s 20-13 and Palm Gardens defeated Ivan’s 16-9.
In C Division play, Paddy’s Pub downed Gator’s/Franklin Rock 18-2 in five innings, while Jack’s Taxidermy first defeated Bob’s Riverside 7-3 and then Woodman’s Pub 13-5.
D DIVISION
Anecelle’s 9, Millennium Marketing 1: Anecelle’s built a modest 4-0 lead with a three-run fourth inning, but did need really seal the deal until plating five runs in the top of the sixth inning. Corinne Russell hit her second double of the game during the five-run burst. Savannah Hempstead led Anecelle’s by going 3-for-3 with a double while pitcher Jackie Markoff surrendered just seven hits.
Kelly Stage was 2-for-3 for Millennium while Rachel Scutt and Shannon Allen added two hits each.
Lucky’s Too 6, Homer Logging 2: Lucky’s Too led 3-1 before scoring three times in the bottom of the fifth inning to double its run production. Jess Hull hit a double for the winners.
D-E CROSSOVER
Lucky’s 18, Easy Street 1, 5 innings: Lucky’s pulled away with seven runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and closed out the shortened game with seven more runs in the fifth. Sherri Dewitt, Jess Nelson and Brenda Stafford each went 3-for-4 with one double for the winners.
E DIVISION
King Sub/Groton Fitness 20, Ho-Beau’s 13: King Sub trailed 11-5 and 13-9 before scoring three runs in the fourth to narrow the deficit to 13-12. After a scoreless fifth inning, King Sub took the lead for good with four runs in the sixth. Rose Adessa had a double and four RBIs to lead the winners while Karen Spafford and Kerry O’Neil added three RBIs each.
Cris Colasurdo had a triple and three RBIs for Ho-Beau’s.
Palm Gardens 16, Ivan’s 9: Palm Gardens raced to an 11-0 lead before Ivan’s got on the board. Miranda O’Dell the way by going 3-for-4 with a double, triple and home run. Courtney Cook was also 3-for-4 for the winners.
C DIVISION
Paddy’s Pub 18, Gator’s/Franklin Rock 2: Paddy’s Pub notched its 10th win of the season by scoring 12 runs in the top of the third inning in this five-inning contest. Lindy West was 3-for-3 for Paddy’s (10-1) while Danette Endress went 2-for-2.
Jack’s Taxidermy 7, Bob’s Riverside 3: Jack’s clung to a 4-3 lead before adding three insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Julie Conklin was 2-for-2 while Michele Workman went 2-for-3 to lead the Jack’s offensive attack.
Becky Cornell was 3-for-3 for Bob’s Riverside with Kelly Pittsley adding a 2-for-3 bat.
Jack’s Taxidermy 13, Woodman’s Pub 5: Jack’s (10-3) broke a 5-5 tie with four runs in the top of the fifth inning and pulled away. Denise DuBrava led the attack by going 3-for-3 with a triple while Julie Conklin and Deb Slaven (double) each added 3-for-4 efforts.
Linda Rasbusin was 4-for-4 for Woodman’s Pub.