November 28, 2006


CHS boys’ streak at O’Heron continues

Staff Writer

Cortland High boys wrapped up its fifth consecutive O’Heron Basketball Invitational tournament crown in just six minutes Saturday afternoon inside SUNY Cortland’s Corey Gymnasium.
Behind tournament MVP Joel White, the Purple Tigers (2-0 overall) used an 18-2 spurt in the first six minutes of the championship contest to roll to a 65-41 triumph over Groton. It was the third title chance for the Indians (1-1), who slipped to 0-3 in championship game appearances. Twice the losses have been to Cortland.
Marathon (1-1), the 2001 O’Heron champions, defeated 2000 champs Homer by a 43-36 count as senior guard Tony Ortiz netted 11 points in an exciting consolation round battle.
Cortland 65, Groton 41: Cortland senior White netted 11 of his game-high 19 points in the opening eight minutes as the Purple Tigers led 21-4 after one quarter.
“It is always nice to have championships under your belt,” said White. “Our team played great. I really think we can go places this year, though we still have a long way to go.”
“We will go as far as Joel’s shoulders will carry us,” said Cortland High coach Mick Lowie. “He is the sparkplug out there. He gets everyone else playing better. That is what’s nice about him being the team leader. Joel is a special kind of player.”
Cortland controlled the opening tip and White hustled the ball up-court, finding senior center Tom Wilk cutting for the basket and hitting him with a perfect pass for the lay-in seven seconds into the game.
After a blocked shot by Wilk and two Groton misses, Wilk grabbed the rebound. The Purple Tiger fastbreak ended with Kaymon Pittman scoring on a reverse lay-up.
The lead grew to 6-0 when White hit two free throws, prompting Groton coach John Filzen to call a timeout.
“Our game plan going in was to play man-to-man defense and take care of their perimeter shooters,” said Lowie. “We wanted to make them (Groton) put the ball on the floor and take it inside to where our strength was. We knew we could contest the short-range shots and get rebounds on the misses. If we did that, I knew we would be in pretty good shape.
“We did a great job of taking away their guards in the first quarter,” he added. “We forced them into some bad shots. We were able to run the floor well and we made our shots.”
Paul Cooley stopped the Cortland run with a jumper with 5:42 left in the first quarter, but the Purple Tigers countered with a 12-0 run to build their advantage to 18-2 with 2:10 left in the quarter. White started the run with a 3-pointer. Senior forward Dan Leonard came off the bench and scored on a lay-up after a steal. White scored again with a lay-up after another theft while being fouled. White sank the free throw. All-Tournament team selection Wilk (18 points, nine rebounds, two blocked shots) scored inside and Leonard hit another shot to complete the run.
Freshman Kyle Reed (16 points) connected for two points to stop the Purple Tiger run before White closed out the quarter with his second trey as Cortland led by 17.
The Purple Tigers enjoyed a 15-9 scoring edge in the second quarter to build a 36-13 halftime cushion. Wilk scored seven of the Purple Tigers’ points while White netting four points. Reed netted five of the Indians’ nine points.
“It really was over early,” said Filzen. “The chance of that happening was present the whole time. Cortland is a bigger team and they are more experienced, plus they had Joel, a Division I athlete, on the floor.
“We have a young team,” he added. “We spent a lot of time with two freshmen and one sophomore on the floor. It was a great learning experience for us. It was frustrating watching them get the rebounds and ramming the ball down our throats, but part of the problem was that we were not making our shots. If we made some shots, we would have had time to set up our defense. We will get better from this. If you look at our record over the years, we get better as the season goes along and that is because we play tougher teams early in the season.”
Groton also picked up seven valuable seeding points for Section 4, Class C playoff time. The Indians got five seeding points for defeating Homer, a Class A school, Friday, and two more points for losing to Class A Cortland Saturday. The same held true for Marathon, another Class C school, who split against Cortland and  Homer over the two days.
The second half was evenly played overall as Cortland held a 29-28 advantage to secure the victory. While the Purple Tigers got scoring help from 11 different players, freshman guard Ethan Tilebein netted 11 points for Groton with classmate Reed scoring nine points.
“Tommy and Levi (Walrath) worked very hard this summer and during the off-season,” said White. “Both guys are really going to surprise some people this season.
“Dan Leonard is really solid coming off the bench. Derek Allen is just a junior, but he is making good decisions. He will continue to come along.”
“To be successful this season, we will need some guys to step-up and help with the scoring load,” said Lowie. “We do have the kids capable of doing that. Having a good tournament will help Tommy’s confidence and Kaywon’s (Pittman) shooting is starting to come around as well.”
As for winning its fifth straight tournament crown, Lowie says it is an important part of the season.
“We do have the most to lose in this tournament,” Lowie stated. “We did take it personal win we did not win those first two years. This is one of our goals every season. This is a great tournament and it is for a great cause.
“We do come into the tournament with an attitude,” he added. “People are expecting us to win it and we do want to win it. We still have to play each game and perform well. It does not matter who we play. Homer, Groton and Marathon always give us a tough battle.”
Marathon 43, Homer 36: Homer took its only lead in consolation game when senior Joe May hit one of two free throws in the first minute of play for a 1-0 advantage.
Turnovers and missed shots highlight the next couple of minutes until All-Tournament pick Ben McDonald gave Marathon the lead with 5:02 left in the opening quarter. The senior hit two free throws and Tony Ortiz followed with a 3-pointer one minute later for a 5-1 Olympian cushion. The teams traded buckets for the remainder of the quarter as Marathon enjoyed a 7-5 lead.
The Olympians started the second quarter with a 7-0 run to increase the margin to 14-5. Ortiz hit a 3-pointer while Stephen Birdsall and McDonald each added deuces.
Homer countered with a trey from Talon Sprouse, but Ortiz answered from long-range and Derek Root scored off an offensive rebound for a 19-8 lead.
The Trojans close out the half with a 9-2 run to trail 21-17 at the break. Jake Andrews buried a 3-pointer and added two free throws, Jon Morrison scored on an offensive rebound and All-Tournament selection Tristan Hartnett added an offensive put-back to pull the Trojans to within 19-17.
Two points by Damian Stiles kept Marathon in front by four at the intermission.
The Olympians started the third quarter strong, but eight straight Homer points knotted the score at 25-25. Hartnett tied the game with a nice bucket on a baseline drive with 4:11 left.
Marathon rebuilt its four-point edge, 31-27, as the third quarter expired, but could never really put Homer away. It came down to the Trojans fouling in the final two minutes and the Olympians, namely, McDonald, cashing in the free throws. Leading 38-36, McDonald hit four-of-six free throws and Birdsall one-of-two over those final two minutes to secure the win.
McDonald and Cody Bellefleur each added eight points to the winning Marathon total while Mike Carboine led Homer with nine points while Hartnett added eight points.

CHS girls pull away from Homer

Sports Editor

Once Cortland High girls turned up the defensive pressure, the championship game of the seventh annual O’Heron Basketball Invitational turned completely around.
Once the Purple Tigers disrupted the patient mood of Homer Central with some full court harassment, a close contest quickly turned into a mismatch.
Cortland ended up forcing Homer into 28 turnovers while cruising to a 50-28 victory early Saturday afternoon at SUNY Cortland’s Corey Gymnasium, senior point guard Shannon Finucane with 18 points and junior forward Amanda Lawlor 14 points.
“We tried to speed it up and Homer tried to slow it down, and we finally forced them to play at our speed,” said CHS coach Dick Penoyer, his team’s defensive success one reason why the Purple Tigers got off 19 more shots than their neighbors.
“I think we were a little tired,” said Finucane, the CHS sparkplug who was named the tournament’s most valuable player. “Homer came out strong and that had something to do with it. We had to step it up with our defense.”
Homer jumped out to a 9-6 first quarter lead when Ashley Brown made a 3-pointer with 2:58 left in the opening stanza, and retook the lead at 11-10 in the early moments of the second quarter when Vickie Smith sank a pull-up shot on one of the few occasions the Trojans solved Cortland’s full court pressure.
That was it for the Trojans upset bid.
The Purple Tigers scored the next 13 points, 11 coming from Lawlor along with an inside low post basket by Fawn Lolar. Homer freshman Gabby Luety did make one of two free throws after being fouled in the final second of play, but the Trojans trailed 23-12 at the halftime break.
Though Homer’s Stephanie Hartquist opened the third quarter swishing a pull-up jump shot, Finucane fueled a stretch where the Purple Tigers reeled off 11 unanswered points. The backcourter scored nine points in the period, including a three-point play, and assisted on one of two Lolar baskets in the stanza as the lead grew to 38-16.
Over the second and third quarters, when Homer turned the basketball over 18 times, Cortland out-scored the Trojans 30-7.
“CORTLAND HAS a very, very good team and when they put the pressure on us we didn’t handle it,” said Homer coach Brenda Nobles.
“They have a very athletic team, which makes it difficult. It’s not just that they have a good point guard and a big girl who can shoot, they’re all athletic,” said added. “When we had them in a half court game, I thought we executed things well. When we got into a running game, were weren’t as under control as we should have been.”
The Trojans shot just 29 percent from the floor, and made just 3-of-9 free throws. Brown and Smith would lead the way with seven points apiece, while Nobles thought Meghan Finn and Brown did a good job chasing after Finucane in Homer’s man-to-man defense.
The Purple Tigers simply had more weapons.