December 3, 2012
Tourney crown fits for Cortland
MVP Whelan shoots down Tully
SHERBURNE — With Zach Whelan providing the offensive spark during a decisive second quarter scoring spree, Cortland High boys came up with a 61-37 triumph over Tully to capture the Sherburne-Earville Tournament basketball title on Saturday.
Senior guard Whelan connected four times beyond the 3-point arc to score 12 of his game-high 20 points in the crucial second stanza, as the Purple Tigers (2-0) grabbed the lead for keeps with a 22-point outburst. That turned a narrow 7-6 first quarter advantage into a 29-20 halftime edge, and the CHS defense prevented the Black Knights from staging a comeback from that deficit.
“We know what Zach is capable of with his shooting,” said rookie CHS head coach Jeremy Milligan after Whelan’s success against a 2-3 zone defense used by Tully throughout the contest. “He improved steadily throughout the course of last season and we saw what he could do when he caught fire. This year, we are counting on him to do what he does best... shooting the ball.”
Senior Josh Gutchess added 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Purple Tigers, and was part of the all-tournament team along with MVP Whelan and senior teammate Brian Hughes.
While scoring six points, Hughes’ major contribution was holding down Tully senior point guard Dan Morse. With the taller 6-foot-4 Hughes a nuisance — and with both Isaiah Prior and Teddy Phillips also taking on the defensive assignment as the game progressed — Morse made just 3-of-11 shots while being held to seven points.
Christopher Russell was only player for the Black Knights (1-1) to reach double figures with 10 points.
After both teams struggling shooting the ball early — CHS 2-for-10 and Tully 2-for-12 in the opening quarter — CHS turned things around with some half-court defensive pressure and Whelan’s hot hand. After breaking a 13-13 deadlock in the second quarter, CHS never trailed again.
The Black Knights pulled within four points with six minutes left in the third quarter after Russell and Tom Burt hit 3-pointers. That’s when CHS switched from man-to-man into a zone defense that thwarted Tully the rest of the way, including holding the Black Knights to just five points in the fourth quarter.
“For the second consecutive game I was very pleased with our defensive intensity on the court,” said Coach Milligan, CHS a 49-24 winner over host Sherburne-Earlville in Friday’s first round game. “We knew we had to stop Dan (Morse) in order to win and our players stepped up to this challenge.”
Gutchess had 10 of his points in the third quarter, when the CHS lead swelled to 48-32. “Josh is a strong, physical player. He is a workhorse and has worked hard to improve his game. He made some great reads and found seams in the 2-3 zone,” said Milligan of the senior forward.
Prior finished with seven assists, Milligan feeling the guard did a good job getting the ball to Whelan during his big second quarter.
In the third place consolation game, Sherburne-Earlville upended Unadilla Valley 55-31.
CHS will get OHSL Freedom Division play started on Friday, visiting Homer Central.
CORTLAND JVs brought home the tournament title, too, by holding Tully scoreless in the opening quarter en route to a 51-45 victory.
Brett Copes scored 14 points, Justin Prentice 12 and Nate Turkow nine for the Purple Tigers (2-0), who led 12-0 after the opening eight minutes and turned back Tully’s comeback bid in the fourth quarter.
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