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November 26, 2008

 

Untested bunch of Purple Tigers open up

Purple TigersJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland High Coach Mick Lowie will be barking out instructions to inexperienced players like Jeff Brown (12) this season.

By TANEY BEAUMONT
Staff Writer

The Cortland high boys’ basketball team has been down this road before.
“Unfortunately, we’re in a similar position to last year, kind of rebuilding and getting kids playing time,” Purple Tigers coach Mick Lowie said, his team set to open the season Friday against marathon in the first round of the O’Heron Tournament at SUNY Cortland. “We have the same weaknesses that we started with last year. We’re not counting out this year. We’ve got some good athletes, they’re just not tested.”
“Without question, the biggest question is where our points are going to come from. Our leading scorer and point guard is gone and we only return one starter,” he said, Kevin Shaw having moved from the district after averaging 15.7 points per game as CHS went 3-10 in the league and 7-14 overall. “
“Last year we did a good job defensively, but would hold teams under 40 points and lose,” Lowie added.
In all, Cortland lost 34 of the 56 points it averaged per game last season. Shaw also led the team in 3-pointers (37), 2-pointers (84), assists (59) and steals (38).
Lost to graduation were forward Levi Walrath (the second leading scorer from a year ago now playing at Keuka College), guard Derek Allen, forward Chad Abbey and center Matt Pitcher. Abbey was the leading rebounder with 97, one more than Pitcher, with Walrath third at 89.
The lone returning starter is 5-11 senior guard Will Fickenscher 4.7 points per game, 34 assists). The top returning scorer is 6-3 senior center Trevor Williamson, who averaged 5.5 points per game and grabbed 78 rebounds. Also back are seniors Justin Guerin (6-2 center), Robert Wade (6-4 forward), Tim Becker (6-1 guard) and 6-1 junior guard Jeff Brown.
This year’s captains are Fickenscher and Williamson.
The newcomers are 5-11 junior guard Jordan Prior, 6-2 junior guard Caleb Wright, 5-8 sophomore guard Dyquann Barlow (Bayshawn’s brother), 6-2 junior forward Camerin Edgar, 6-2 junior forward Jake Robillard, 6-1 junior forward Tyler Bombard and 6-4 sophomore forward Justin Hogan. All but Barlow were on last year’s 14-4 junior varsity team, which was led in scoring by Prior with 16.1 average. He was also the team leader in assists and steals, with no stats available.
“We have good depth,” Lowie said in addressing his team’s strong points. “”I think we can play 10 kids and be in pretty good shape. There’s a solid group of JV players that came up, and we expect that they’ll contribute this season. We think we have kids who can shoot, including Becker, Brown, Fickenscher, Prior, Hogan and Wade.
“Another weakness we’ll have is size in terms of a dominant-type center, but overall we have decent team size and can jump fairly well, especially Williamson, Wade and Hogan. We’re relatively inexperienced overall. We’ve got athletic kids with not a lot of varsity experience.”
Lowie noted that his squad is in two tournaments this season, the O’Heron Friday and Saturday at SUNY Cortland and, after a year’s absence, its own Cortland Holiday Classic Dec. 29 and 30. “We’d like to win those,” he said. “We’ve always been one of the top defensive teams in the league, and we want to continue that.”
Cortland’s league, the OHSL Freedom American Division, has also changed significantly, as perennial powerhouse and defending state Class A champion Jamesville-DeWitt moved to the Freedom national and Mexico came over to the American, which also includes Bishop Ludden, Phoenix and Chittenango.
“Bishop Ludden, Phoenix and Chittenango all graduated all five starters from last season,” Lowie said. “Ludden will still be good, but not as good. They shouldn’t be dominant like J-D has been. Our JVs beat them twice last season. The league will be much more balanced; if we play well, we may be able to compete for the title, though we’re not in that position yet.
Rick Miller is back for his 14th season as a varsity assistant coach, joined this year by newcomers Jeremy Milligan and Francis Loiacono. All three are former CHS players. Yale Hughes is back as the JV coach, again assisted by Tom Neugebauer and Tim Guido, with Jim Brown the freshman coach, Jeff Lacey coaching the eighth-grade team and Dave Beams in charge of the seventh-grad squad, assisted by Rod Potter.