November 26, 2007


Titles for CHS girls, Groton boys

Tigers able to hold off late charge by Newfield


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Shannon Finucane of Cortland High eyes the hoop as Newfield defenders Micki Volpini (left) and Verista Henderson look on in Saturday’s O’Heron Invitational title game at SUNY Cortland. MVP Finucane scored 19 points in 55-51 CHS victory.

Sports Editor

It was a moment that accented what made Cortland High point guard Shannon Finucane the Most Valuable Player of the O’Heron Invitational, and it came when the senior was not even on the floor.
In this basketball title game on Saturday afternoon against the Newfield Trojans, the Purple Tigers sparkplug picked up her fourth personal foul 30 seconds into the fourth quarter and had to find a seat on the bench moments later with Cortland up by 11 points.
From that juncture on this game took on a different nature, with spunky Newfield pulling to within three points with possession of the basketball in the late going before the Purple Tigers escaped with a 55-51 victory to successfully defend their tournament title at SUNY Cortland’s Corey Gymnasium.
Finucane scored 19 points, senior center Fawn Lolar made her first six shots during a 13-point performance and senior Amanda Lawlor hit a couple of 3-pointers among her 11 points for the Purple Tigers. But when Finucane sat out for three minutes with her foul woes, and even after she returned with 4:07 left to play hoping to avoid fouling out of the game, the champs were a much different team.
Or as Cortland coach Dick Penoyer said: “When Shannon went out we lost all of our rhythm.”
Newfield opened the fourth quarter scoring 10 unanswered points, helped out by Finucane’s absence. The only basket CHS scored over the entire final period was a lay-up by Finucane with 1:45 left to play, which put her side up 54-47.
The Trojans responded from that basket with four straight points from their own senior stalwart, Micki Volpini. She made one of two free throws and, after a Purple Tiger turnover, converted a fast break into a three-point play to get her side within 54-51 with just over a minute left.
But while Cortland was missing three of four free throws over the final minute, Newfield failed to convert those opportunities into points. Two crucial possessions down the stretch ended in disastrous turnovers, and a final chance resulted in a forced shot that was well off target.
Volpini finished with 17 points while doing a bit of everything for the Trojans (1-1), even while being hounded by Finucane’s persistent defense. Sophomore forward Maria Thannhauser tossed in 11 points and freshman Verista Henderson came off the bench to add nine points as well as provide enough of a defense spark to earn a spot on the all-tournament team.
That was almost enough to regain the title Newfield captured here two seasons ago.
“We were there at the end, which is where we wanted to be. We scrapped the whole game,” said Newfield coach Gary Emerson after falling behind 35-26 at halftime and trailing by 14 points heading into the final act. “A few key things happened at the end that broke our backs.”
“A COUPLE OF people injured, a couple of people sick and we had some jitters,” said Finucane of what nearly did in the Purple Tigers. CHS had routed Elmira Southside by 30 points in an opening game without working up much of a sweat.
“I’m just glad we got a game like this,” the MVP added. “You can win by 50 and not play in the second half, but you need a game like this because we’re going to be playing some tough teams.”
Newfield, which hopes to make some noise on Interscholastic Athletic Conference courts this season after winning 17 games a year ago, certainly tested Cortland mettle.
When Volpini hit a 3-point shot with 39 seconds left in the first quarter, this game was a 15-15 standoff. But Finucane drained a 15-footer and came up with a late steal that led to a Deanna Bishop lay-up before the buzzer. That gave CHS a 19-15 first quarter advantage.
Cortland would never trail again, going up 35-26 at halftime with some help from Newfield foul trouble. The Purple Tigers were 11-for-17 from the line over the first half. By comparison, Newfield only got to the free throw line once (and missed that chance) over the opening 16 minutes.
And after Lolar swished a baseline shot, after Courtney Tennant crashed the offensive boards and scored and after Finucane turned a teammate’s air ball into a three-point play underneath, Cortland had its biggest lead at 46-29 with 4:18 left in the third quarter.
Treys by Henderson and Volpini, sandwiched around a Thannhauser basket off a Volpini steal and assist, provided an omen that Newfield was not going away. And in the fourth quarter when Finucane had to spend her brief time on the bench, the Trojans almost climbed all the way back against a larger Class A opponent.
”We played an A school, and not just an A school, a good A school, and we were right there, so we’re proud about that,” said coach Emerson of his Class C Newfield squad.
Cortland learned a lesson, too.
“We need to be able to play with Finucane not on the floor, because that’s going to happen at times this season,” said Penoyer of his deep squad. “The other kids are good enough to play without her, and they need to realize that. It’s just that she just makes everyone that much better.”
That’s why Finucane was presented with the MVP trophy, joined by Lolar, Volpini, Henderson, Homer’s Stephanie Hartquist and Elmira Southside’s  Erikka Rosplock on the all-tournament team.
Homer 44, Elmira Southside 37: In the opening consolation contest, Homer overcame a slow start to capture its first victory of the season.
“We didn’t turn the ball over as much, that was the biggest thing,” said Coach Bruce Tytler to a key to the Trojan victory. Homer (1-1) had 16 turnovers for the game, after having 17 in the first half alone in a first round loss to Newfield.
Tytler raved about how well Hartquist handled the defensive pressure applied by Elmira Southside (0-2), the senior also leading the team 17 points. Her two free throws with 30 seconds left provided crucial eight-point breathing room, too.
Ashley Brown had a trio of 3-pointers and finished with 14 points for Homer, while Tytler praised the defensive work of Halee Riley close to the basket.
Rosplock had 17 points and Megan Kelly 13 for Elmira Southside, which was within six points with possession of the ball in the final minute before coming up short.
“We’re headed in the right direction,” felt first year head coach Ryan Johnson of his Green Hornets. Elmira Southside is looking to recover from a win-less 2006-07 campaign.


Defense, Tilebein lift Indians past Trojans

Sports Writer

Since the beginning of the O’Heron Invitational, only the Groton Central boys and head coach John Filzen had never won the Thanksgiving weekend basketball tournament title.
Behind an opportunistic defense and 25 points from tournament Most Valuable Player Ethan Tilebein, the Indians and Coach Filzen won the gold for the first time in five tries with a solid 49-31 win over Homer Central Saturday afternoon inside SUNY Cortland’s Corey Gymnasium.
Groton (2-0) never held a 10-point advantage until the midway point of the third quarter, but slowly pulled away throughout the game by forcing 24 Homer turnovers, a dozen in each half.
In the third place consolation game, Kevin Shaw scored 25 points as Cortland High (1-1) raced to an early 8-0 lead and rolled to a 71-32 victory over Marathon.
Groton 49, Homer 31: “I do not look at it as I finally won this tournament,” said Filzen. “I am glad we won. This is a good win for our kids. We may not be tall, but we are tough and these guys know how to win. Everything they do has just one thing in mind, that is try to win.
“We showed a little different look on defense and that flustered them,” said Filzen. “When you look back at this tournament, you will see that it was our defense that made the difference. If we can continue to play defense like this, we will be tough every night out.”
Kyle Reed (14 points, 10 rebounds) got Groton on top 2-0 early, but Homer (1-1) took its only lead of the game with 5:40 left in the quarter when Mike Carboine sank two free throws for a 4-3 Trojan advantage.
Groton pushed the ball the court quickly and Tilebein scored on a strong drive to the hoop with 5:33 left in the quarter. Matt Parsons stole the ball and drove the length of the court for a 7-4 Indians lead just 19 seconds later and the champions were on their way.
Joey Rivers pulled Homer to within 9-7 with by converting an offensive rebound into two points with 3:04 left in the quarter, but neither team scored again until Ryan Tracey converted a fast-break lay-up with one second left for an 11-7 Groton lead.
Turning the ball over just three times in the first half, Groton raced to an eight-point lead to start the second quarter on two Reed buckets. The first coming off a nice pass from Tilebein and the second on a steal and lay-up. The advantage stood at 24-16 by halftime.
Both teams had turnover woes in the second half. Groton joined Homer with 12 second-half miscues, still led 31-24 heading into the fourth quarter.
Derrick McCall, who led Homer with 12 points, made two free throws to pull the Trojans to within 31-26 with 7:28 left in the game, but Groton responded with 12-0 run. Tilebein who caught fire and netted 12 points in quarter, starting the run with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. The sophomore guard then added two foul shots and another trey. Reed closed out the run with two baskets as the Groton lead exploded to 43-26 with 4:53 left.
After McCall netted two Homer points, the Indians tallied the next six points as the scoring pace slow when Groton worked the 35-second shot clock. Tilebein netted four points and Josh Senter closed out the Groton scoring with a basket with 30 seconds left.
The Trojans scored just seven points in the fourth quarter, three coming from Franco Giordano with 19 seconds to play to close out the 49-31 Groton victory. Homer made just 10 field goals the entire game.
“Every time we got to within six points we could not stop them,” said Homer coach Jim Luchsinger. “To their credit, Groton did some good things against us. They made their shots and we didn’t. That is the way it is. Yesterday (Friday) the shots went in, today they didn’t.”
In addition to Tilebein winning the MVP award, Reed was also an all-tournament team selection for Groton. Carboine and McCall from Homer earned all-tournament team honors.
“Coach told us that we would have two tough games,” said Tilebein, preferring to talk about the team. “We knew Cortland would be tough. They were tall and we had to play with a lot of intensity. Homer was very similar and we came out and played hard again.
“I really worked on my foul-shooting,” Tilebein added. He was 9-for-19 against Cortland, but went 7-for-8 in the title game. “We had a one-hour shooting session this morning and that was all I worked on.”
“That is a winner’s attitude,” said Filzen. “He said that he was going to grab a ball and go to the (foul) line. I don’t know how many he shot, but that is what he did. He came back when we worked on a few team things and he then went back to shooting foul shots. He knew that could have cost us the night before and he went to work on correcting the problem.
“Ethan has a scorer’s mentality,” Filzen added. “He is a fun kid to coach and he has a great attitude He works hard and had a great tournament. Kyle Reed had another great game for us with a double-double. Kyle Yunger played hurt, but he stilled grabbed eight rebounds for us. This is a great group of kids.”
Both Homer and Groton return to action Wednesday. The Trojans host Hannibal on OHSL action while the Indians entertain Trumansburg in IAC action. JV play will tip-off at 5:30 p.m. at both sites.
Cortland 71, Marathon 32: “It was a better effort,” said Cortland coach Mick Lowie over the lopsided victory. “We had guys diving on the floor. We had guys boxing out for the rebounds. We had guys running the floor. That is how things have been the first two weeks of practice. We did throw a few gentle reminders at them this morning and it was good to see the guys respond well. That is all I wanted to see.”
Shaw hit a 3-pointer and scored nine of the Cortland’s 15 points in the first quarter as the Purple Tigers raced to a 15-8 advantage. Levi Walrath came to life an added four points in the quarter before finishing with nine for the game.
Marathon went 0-for-9 from the field in the second quarter and netted just two points as Stephen Birdsall and Derrek Root each made one free throw. That resulted in Cortland building a 32-10 halftime advantage.
Shaw went wild in the third quarter and netted 14 more points to aid to his 11-point first-half total and earned all-tournament team honors. Trevor Williamson came off the bench to add 12 points, 10 in the second half, to the Purple Tiger total.
Cody Bellefleur led Marathon with nine points while Birdsall was limited to seven points. Birdsall to did all the other little things like rebounding, hustling and trying to lead his team and that earned him all-tournament team honors.
Cortland High will open OHSL Freedom Division action Wednesday as the Purple Tigers host Fulton. Jayvee action begins at 5:30 p.m. Marathon begins IAC play by hosting Dryden Friday, with JV play tipping off at 6 p.m.




Dragons recover to take 3rd place

ROCHESTER — SUNY Cortland men salvaged the weekend with a total team effort in the consolation game of the Rochester Holiday Inn Airport Invitational on Sunday.
Six Red Dragons scored in double figures in an 87-84 victory over 20th-ranked Baldwin-Wallace to secure third place. It was a good way to bounce back from a 72-50 loss to Rochester in Saturday’s opening round, which handed Cortland (3-1) its first loss of this young basketball season.
Rochester went on to defeat Ohio Wesleyan 76-69 in the championship game.
Junior forward Carson Niehoff led Cortland with 19 points and also recorded four assists in the win over Baldwin-Wallace. Sophomore Mike Lewis finished with 16 points and seven rebounds and junior Juan Miolan scored 13 points, including three shots from 3-point range.
Sophomore Paul Oliver added 12 points, two blocks and a game-high 11 rebounds to earn a spot on the all-tournament team for the Red Dragons. He scored 25 points on 12-of-17 shooting in the two tournament games.
Red Dragon sophomore Will Coston also scored 12 points and senior Mark Schaller totaled 10 points and three assists. Senior Derrick Fish led the Red Dragons with five assists.
Kyle Brown led the Yellow Jackets (1-3) with 31 points and six rebounds. He made 11-of-20 shots, including 4-of-8 from beyond the 3-point arc. Tyler Sekerak scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds and Brendan Schuler tallied 10 points and dished out seven assists.
Cortland outscored Baldwin-Wallace 13-2 over the final 3:18 of the first half to take a 44-36 halftime lead. The Red Dragons were up as much as 10 points in the second half, but the Yellow Jackets fought back and led 70-68 with 7:42 remaining.
Oliver scored Cortland’s next six points to help the Red Dragons regain the lead, and Niehoff’s two free throws with 4:37 left extended the advantage to 76-72.
Sekerak nailed a 3-point shot with 4:13 left to bring Baldwin-Wallace within one and Brown’s two free throws with 2:57 left gave the Yellow Jackets their final lead at 77-76.
Coston made a 3-pointer with 2:42 left to put the Red Dragons back ahead at 79-77, and Niehoff hit one of two free throws with 1:23 remaining to push the lead to three. Schuler’s lay-up at the 1:03 mark reduced Cortland’s lead back to one.
Cortland missed a shot on its next possession, but the Red Dragons retained possession on a team offensive rebound with 35 seconds left.
Schaller was then fouled and made his first free throw. He missed the second, but an Oliver offensive rebound kept the ball in Cortland’s hands. Niehoff’s two free throws with 24 seconds left increased the lead to 83-79.
Schuler made two free throws with 19 seconds left to keep Baldwin-Wallace within two, but Niehoff sank a pair of foul shots with 12 seconds left and Lewis added two charity tosses with four seconds left. A Sekerak 3-pointer at the buzzer created the final margin.