December 12, 2011


Cortland zone stymies Lakers

SYRACUSE — With the defense clamping down after a tight opening quarter, Cortland High boys pulled away to post a 63-36 victory over Skaneateles in a basketball contest that was part of Peppino Tournament play.
The non-league match-up was one of seven Peppino Tourney games showcased over three days at Henninger High School, four of those including the CHS victory played on Saturday.
Brandon Babcock had 14 points, Qwuhail Barlow 13, Jonathan Prior 10 and J.P. Reagan 10 in a balanced offensive showing for the Purple Tigers, who are off to a 2-0 start heading into Tuesday’s visit to Jamesville-DeWitt. That OHSL Freedom Division opener will be a rematch of last year’s Section 3 Class A title game won by J-D en route to capturing a state title.
Skaneateles (1-1) was within 14-13 after the opening eight minutes before the Purple Tigers pulled away, Brandon Barron the lone Laker in double figures with 12 points. Ironically, Cortland’s switch to a zone defense that stymied the Lakers came about with the upcoming J-D tussle in mind.
“We switched from man-to-man to zone, which wasn’t the plan going in but we need to play zone against J-D,” said head coach Mick Lowie, getting his Purple Tigers ready to combat J-D’s 6-foot-9 Tyler Cavanaugh and 6-foot-8 Dujuan Coleman. “Since we didn’t play any zone (in our season-opening win) against Westhill, we had to get game-ready in our zone.”
That defensive switch helped the Purple Tigers turn their one-point first quarter advantage into a 32-22 halftime lead, and CHS out-scored the Lakers 31-14 after intermission.
Cortland also conquered some aggressive man-to-man defensive work by the Lakers while making 25-of-54 shots from the floor.
“To their credit, they took us out the sets we wanted to run” said Coach Lowie of the Lakers from the OHSL Liberty Division. “So we just spread the floor, went four-corners, and Qwuhail Barlow was able to beat his man and he got us lay-ups.”
That’s how Babcock did most of his damage, shooting 6-of-9 from the floor and scoring seven points in the third quarter. And when the Lakers tried their own zone for a bit in that third quarter, 3-pointers swished by Reagan, Prior and P.J. Mahar quickly ended that gambit.
Cortland guard Barlow received the MVP trophy presented to a player on each team taking part in the tournament, having a team-high four assists in the victory to go along with his 13 points. Barron the MVP recipient for the Lakers.
Reagan had 12 rebounds and Babcock 10 as the Purple Tigers won the war of the backboards 34-21, while Coach Lowie praised the work of junior Brian Hughes. Though going scoreless, Hughes was part of this solid defensive effort while grabbing five rebounds, blocking three shots and coming up with three assists.
“They lost some kids from last year, but they had two good kids with size and a good shooter in Jim Atkinson. We kept better track of him in the second half,” said Lowie of the Lakers, CHS holding Atkinson without a second half point after he hit a pair of treys earlier.
Next comes J-D, who after an 83-57 loss to nationally-ranked DeMatha High as part of the National High School Hoops Festival held in Washington, D.C., this weekend — when Cavanaugh and Coleman got in foul trouble — came back to beat St. John the Baptist 63-54 on Sunday. Cavanaugh had 18 points in that victory.
The CHS and J-D junior varsity squads get Tuesday’s twin bill started at 6 p.m. on the Red Rams’ court.


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