November 21, 2007


Purple Tigers eager to get going

Veteran CHS girls have lofty ambitions


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Senior Amanda Lawlor (25) of Cortland High is one of 11 players returning from last year’s successful 15-7 squad.

Staff Writer

This season should have a familiar ring to it for the Cortland High girls’ basketball team, which opens its season at 2:45 p.m. Friday against Elmira Southside at SUNY Cortland’s Corey Gymnasium in the first round of the O’Heron Invitational.
That’s because 11 of the Purple Tigers’ 12 players are back from last season, when CHS was second in the OHSL Freedom Division at 11-5 and finished 15-7 overall after a second-round loss to new Hartford in the Section 3 Class A tournament.
The top returnee is 5-3 senior point guard Shannon Finucane, who led the team in scoring last season with 16.5 points per game and, with 959 points in her three varsity years is poised to top the magic 1,000-point mark early this season. Finucane also led the team in three-pointers, with 29, assists with 10 and steals with 107.
Amanda Lawlor, a 6-0 senior guard, was second in scoring last season with 15.0 points per game, was the team’s top three-point shooter by percentage and pulled down a team-high 187.
Also back are seniors Deanna Bishop (5-9 forward, 8.9 points per game), Fawn Lolar (5-9 forward, 8.5 ppg), Kim Hall (5-5 guard) and Lauren Shirley (5-5 guard), juniors Alena Turturro (5-9 forward), Tiffany Griffin (5-7 forward), Emily VanGorder (5-3 guard) and Molly Bramschreiber (5-3 guard) and 6-2 sophomore forward Courtney Tennant.
The lone newcomer is 5-10 junior center Nadine Khazzaka, whose sister Natalie (3.8 points per game), a tri-captain last season, is the only player gone from that squad after graduating. Finucane and Bishop are again captains this season.
Another area of familiarity for the Purple Tigers is the fact that head coach Dick Penoyer will again be assisted by Ron Hulslander and Lee Ann Martins, as has been the case since he became head coach prior to the 2001-02 season.
“There’s been consistency in practice since we’ve been together, which is important for the kids,” Penoyer said of his coaching staff. “The first thing for us this season is to keep people healthy. We seem to have all the components of a good team with good guards, forwards and height.
“I think that a factor at the beginning will be our defensive philosophy. We have kids who can score, seven or eight consistently, and a lot of them are interchangeable. Amanda, Deanna and Fawn, for example, can all play out front or underneath. Tiffany will come of the bench, and Alena has been outstanding all summer. The whole team played a lot of basketball all summer and worked hard to prepare They’re excited about this season. I told the kids at the beginning, we’ll play with anybody and, I think, can beat anybody on a given night.”
The Purple Tigers will be in the OHSL Freedom American Division this season, with Jamesville-DeWitt (which Penoyer sees as the top contender), Chittenango, Homer and Phoenix. Mexico and Syracuse CBA should, Penoyer feels, head up the Freedom National, which also includes East Syracuse-Minoa, Fowler and Fulton. “The league (overall) is tough, with four or five decent teams,” he said.
“Our first goal is to win the O’Heron Tournament (which also includes Homer and Newfield this year),” Penoyer said. “It would also be nice to see if wee could get a bit deeper into sectionals.”
Jamie Brown will coach the junior varsity team this season, while Bob Edwards will be in charge of the eighth-grade team and Tiffany Beam will handle the seventh-grade squad.

Cortland boys hope to surprise people

Staff writer

Things are going to be vastly different for the Cortland High boys’ basketball team this season, which begins with Friday’s 7:45 p.m. contest against Groton Central in the O’Heron Invitational at SUNY Cortland’s Corey Gym.
That’s especially true after last year’s epic run to the Section 3 Class A championship game.
Then again…….
“We finished last year a little better than we thought we would, largely due to Joel (White) and Tom (Wilk),” Purple Tigers coach Mick Lowie said of last year’s sectional runner-up finish by a sixth-ranked squad that pulled off two post-season upsets and finished 16-7 overall after going 6-5 in OHSL Freedom Division play. “No one was looking at Cortland then, and they’re certainly not looking at us now.
“But if things come together for this team like we think they can, we’re going to surprise some people,” Lowie added. “One nice thing is that we have some kids back who know what can happen if you play together. We’ve had 11 straight winning seasons, and the kids know that. They also know that if they go out, play hard and do what they’re asked, they can be a part of that. A key will be how quickly they can gel together and play. We have players from all four high school grades; it isn’t any easy thing to do. It’s going to be a little bit of a struggle. We weren’t helped by the fact that most of them played fall sports, so we weren’t able to do a whole lot. Right now it’s a challenge.”
White and Wilk, both All-OHSL Freedom Division first-team selections last season, graduated last June. White, a guard and now playing lacrosse for Syracuse University, was an all-CNY second-team pick and a Class A all-state eighth-team selection after last season. He led the team in scoring with 19.1 points per game. He also set school records for three-pointers in a season (55) and career (104), and set program standards for points in a game (39), assists (272) and steals (250).
Wilk averaged 17.7 points per game, hauled down a team-high 253 rebounds and blocked 56 shots, third-best since that stat was kept by CHS starting in 1995.
A total of seven players return from last year, but as Lowie noted, only two of them — 6-3 senior forward Levi Walrath and 5-10 senior point guard Derek Allen — saw appreciable playing time. Walrath averaged 5.4 points per game and Allen 4.0 ppg last season.
“Obviously both will have to be more offensive-minded than they have been,” Lowie said. “Both are capable of it. Derek is a better shooter than his stats showed last year, and Levi is perfectly capable of scoring inside.”
Also back from last season are seniors Jason Hogan (6-2 forward), Chad Abbey (6-6 forward) and Matt Pitcher (6-5 center), plus 6-0 junior guards Will Fickenscher and Tim Becker.
Allen, Walrath and Pitcher are this season’s captains.
New to the varsity level this season are juniors Bayshaun Barlow (5-9 point guard), Justin Guerin (6-3 center), Robert Wade (6-4 forward) and Trevor Williamson (6-3 forward), 5-9 sophomore guard Jeff Brown and 6-0 freshman point guard Kevin Shaw. All but Barlow are up from last season’s 11-6 junior varsity squad.
In addition to Allen and Walrath, Lowie noted that Abbey, Fickenscher, Shaw and Pitcher are all possible starters at this point.
“Chad is quite possibly one of the most improved players we’ve seen in awhile,” Lowie said of Abbey. “He’s worked very, very hard and looks strong. He can shoot the ball, and take it to the basket. Will is a good shooter and a good athlete who I think is capable of scoring some points. Kevin has all the tools; he still has to do some adjusting to the varsity level but is a good shooter, scorer and passer, and a good defensive player. Matt is our only true center, is a big strong rebounder who’s capable of scoring inside, and gives us an inside presence.”
On the subject of starters, Lowie said:  “We very seldom change the starting lineups, but with this group we could change one or two players, depending on the opponent and their personnel.”
In summing up the rest of the squad, Lowie said that “Trevor is a very skilled player, runs the floor well and is very athletic inside; he’ll be good for spelling Levi. Justin is rugged inside and can score; he’s very aggressive, and a good rebounder. Robert is a good shooter and rebounder, and is athletic. Tim is a good outside shooter, with a good jumper, and a good defensive player.
“Jeff is another good shooter, very good with three-pointers; he’s still a little small but is aggressive and has no problem mixing it up. Jason is a little bit of an all-around player; he’ll play a little guard, and is a swing type. He has good size, and is a decent rebounder. Bayshaun has good quickness and is a decent shooter, and gives us another point guard on our purple (practice) squad. So far we’re happy with everything that’s gone on; we know we have to show patience.”




Second half revival lifts Dragons

Sports Editor

Considering this SUNY Cortland men’s basketball team is still a work in progress, what happened in the early portions of the second half Tuesday evening was more than encouraging.
After an opening half struggle against youthful Elmira College in this non-league affair at Corey Gymnasium, the Red Dragons took command and ran off with an 84-58 victory.
Cortland outscored the Soaring Eagles by a lopsided 26-4 margin over the opening 10 minutes and 18 seconds of the second half to settle the issue. While the defense forced the visitors into nine turnovers during that pull-away, explosive sophomore Will Coston ignited the offense by scoring 13 of his 15 points during that second half success.
“Our tempo press bothered them and that energy carried over to the offensive end, where we were in attack mode after being passive in the first half,” said Coach Tom Spanbauer after his Cortland club improved to 2-0 on the season thanks to a 53-point second half splurge.
Coston and sophomore big man Mike Lewis led the way with 15 points apiece, while point guard Derrick Fish had a career high nine points — including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from some 30 feet out that gave Cortland a 31-28 lead to take into halftime.
“I think it was a big shot,” said Fish, the 6-foot-1 senior captain out of Locust Valley. “It only put us up by three, but it gave us some motivation for the second half. We had been sluggish in the first half, so we needed it.”
Fish went without a turnover in his 21 minutes of court time, finishing with four assists. The Red Dragons had a single second half turnover. Senior guard Mark Schaller added six assists to go along with five points, too.
After struggling against Elmira’s zone defense in the first half, Cortland only 1-for-13 from 3-point range before Fish’s late line-drive long distance connection off the dribble, Red Dragon shooters warmed to the occasion. The Red Dragons shot 68 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes, including going 6-for-9 from beyond the arc.
Freshman Ron Evans was part of that improvement, the southpaw sniper from New Hartford scoring 11 points with a trio of treys over a span of four minutes in the late going.
An Elmira team that has seven freshmen and six sophomores on Coach Chris Connolly’s roster falls to 0-2. Sophomore swingman David Nelson out of Bainbridge-Guilford had 16 points and Jon Adamson from Herkimer 11 for the Soaring Eagles.




TC3 still unbeaten after OT road win

SCHENECTADY — This eighth straight basketball victory for Tompkins Cortland Community College men took a little extra hard work Tuesday night.
The Panthers (8-0), off to the best start in the history of the program, went overtime to subdue host Schenectady County CC 90-82 on the same day they broke into the NJCAA Region III rankings for the first time since the 2002-03 season.
The Panthers are ranked fifth in the current regional poll.
TC3 jumped ahead early, taking a 42-31 lead into the half before the home team came back to tie it at 75-75 at the end of regulation. The visitors regained control in the extra period, outscoring the Royals 15-7 for the win.
Sean Anderson led the Panthers with 25 points to go with five rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Owen Mann added 21 points, five rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Eddie Mitchell posted 15 points, five assists, and five steals and Chris Garcia contributed 14 points, six assists, and three rebounds.
Tyrone Butler netted 28 points for Schenectady CC (2-4). TC3 now enjoys eight days off before facing Niagara Country CC on Thursday, Nov. 29.
TC3 WOMEN were tied at halftime before Schenectady CC pulled away for a 60-50 victory. The Panthers are now 3-5 overall while Schenectady improves to 5-1.
Nicole Reidcontinued to play well for the Panthers, the Southern Cayuga grad leading the team with 17 points. Jenn Iler added 11 points, while Alyssa Drake and Diana Leifsson each grabbed six rebounds for the Panthers.
After a break for Thanksgiving, the Panthers return to action Tuesday at Davis College in Johnson City.