December 12, 2009


Come up with big 69-52 win at Bishop Ludden —

Purple Tigers roar

SYRACUSE — The Cortland High boys’ basketball team picked a good time to step its game up a little.
“We knew that of we had any chance of winning the division that we’d need to split with Bishop Ludden,” Purple Tigers coach Mick Lowie said of the OHSL Freedom Division race. “There’s no question this was our best performance of the year so far.”
The end result Friday night was an impressive 69-52 road win over the host Gaelic Knights that left CHS alone atop the division standings at 3-0 (3-1 overall). Bishop Ludden falls to second at 3-1 and 3-2 overall.
“There was no magic to the game. The kids went out and just executed,” Lowie said. “We talked about what we had to do to beat Ludden. One thing was to get balanced scoring from our four main scorers. We don’t feel that offensively we’re close to hitting our stride yet. Our shooting percentage was fantastic. It was out lowest shot total, but our highest percentage.”
CHS shot 56 percent from the floor, landing 25 of its 55 shots.
As for the balanced scoring, mission accomplished. Junior forward Justin Hogan led Cortland with 18 points, while senior guard Jordan Prior had 15, sophomore center Brandon Babcock 13 and senior guard Jeff Brown 12.
“Another area we talked about,” Lowie said, “was the large number of turnovers we’d had. We only had 12 in this game, our lowest total of the season.”
Another key to the game, Lowie noted, was how his team responded when the momentum started shifting the Gaelic Knights’ way at the end of the first half. Bishop Ludden went on a 10-0 run over the final 2:40 of the first half, trimming a CHS lead from 27-15 to 27-25.
“We had the momentum but lost it and at halftime we tried to calm the kids down a little, reminding them that we were in a good spot, still ahead,” said Lowie. “They came out in the third quarter and seized the momentum right back, just methodically coming down and executing, finding kids who were open.
“We had nice ball movement; they played good defense, starting in a full-court man-to-man but switching to a zone at the end of the second quarter and starting the third after we started to get the ball inside. We used a couple of different of zone offenses, and found one that worked well in terms of getting people open.”
Lowie noted that two defining moments helped his team underline the fact that it wasn’t going to back down in the contest.
“At the end of the third their point guard, Jared Littlejohn, stepped out of bounds in front of our bench. There was a quiet whistle and he took three or four more steps and hit a 3-pointer. They disallowed it and gave us the ball with a couple of seconds left; We had Jonathan Prior take it out, fake a pass to P.J. Mahar, who had just hit a three, and get it to Brandon inside, and he hit a layup at the buzzer.
“Midway through the fourth Jordan was being pressured defensively by Littlejohn, drove and then stepped back and hit a three. That told them that we weren’t going to fold against their defensive pressure, which they stepped up in the fourth, and that it wasn’t going to take its toll on us in this game.”
Hogan had 10 rebounds, senior forward Caleb Wright six and Babcock five as the winners had a 32-30 edge on the boards. Jordan Prior had seven assists, Lowie noting that in the last two games, including Tuesday’s 62-34 win over Homer, he has a total of 16 assists and three turnovers. Prior also had two steals, while Babcock dished out four assists.
“It was fun to watch the kids execute so well,” Lowie said. “Other teams will see this result, and now the task is to do it every night.”
John Rooney had 13 points and Littlejohn 12 to lead Ludden.
CORTLAND JVs improved to 3-1 with a 48-36 win over Bishop Ludden as Josh Gutchess led the way with 13 points, Brian Hughes added 11 and Isaiah Prior and Andrew Potter scored nine each. The Purple Tigers led 14-10 after one quarter, 26-18 at halftime and 36-29 heading into the final eight minutes. Malik Stenson led the Gaelic Knights with nine points.
Both Cortland squads host Mexico Tuesday and Fowler Friday, with 5:30 p.m. starts for the JVs both nights.