December 23, 2013
Purple Tigers toppled by J-D
Facing a talented opponent minus your starting point guard isn’t a recipe for basketball success.
That was the scenario that the Cortland High boys’ team faced Saturday night against visiting Jamesville-DeWitt in its home opener at Shafer Gym. When it was over the Red Rams, who scored nine of the game’s first 10 points and never looked back, headed home on the winning end of an 80-60 final score in a game that was postponed from Tuesday by the weather.
“Their team did a good job offensively and I thought we missed Eamonn (Mahar),” Purple Tigers coach Jeremy Milligan said, his senior starting point guard injured in CHS’s last game and out until sometime next month.
“I also thought that Sage Brown handled himself well, shifting positions and taking over at point guard. Early on when he got by defenders he wasn’t going to the jump step, under control, but as the game went on he made good decisions. I was pleased with his effort, for sure,” added Milligan.
Senior forward Daquan Pittman led Cortland — now 1-1 league and 3-2 overall —with 12 points, complemented by junior Brown and senior guard Qadir Artis with 11 each.
“J-D shot threes very well and got off to an early lead that we were never able to overcome,” noted Milligan. “We blinked and suddenly we were down by double digits. We knew coming in that they went mostly man-to-man on defense, and they went to full-court presses a couple of times. Another thing that hurt us in the game was the fact that we committed nine of our 16 turnovers in the first half. There were some valuable possessions where we gave the ball away.”
“The hard part for Cortland was adjusting to Eamonn’s not being there,” said J-D coach Bob McKenney, whose team stayed perfect through two OHSL Freedom National Division games and is now 4-0 overall. “In the games we scouted he handled the ball 85 percent of the time. We shot well in the first half, and rebounded better in the first than in the second.
“We’re still a relatively young team, but with eight experienced guys who saw playing time last year. They’re kind of where we were last year. They’re going to keep getting better and I think they’ll be a handful for us next time,’ he added, Cortland to visit J-D on Feb. 4. “In both teams’ defense tonight, each of us last played 11 days ago.”
DESPITE BEING HOBBLED a bit after stepping on a teammate’s foot in practice Thursday, Jafar Kinsey was the catalyst for J-D’s early explosion. The senior guard hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored a total of eight points in the first quarter, which ended with his team in front 24-12.
“I think adrenaline helped me get through it,” Kinsey said of his injury. “That and ice, plus sitting out practice yesterday. I think talking on defense was a key for us tonight; it helped us keep our energy up and get out fast.”
Kinsey finished with 20 points on the night, along with five assists, and noted that “My teammates got me the ball in good position to score; it was pretty much because of them.”
Cortland replaced J-D last year atop what had been the Freedom American Division, ending a long Red Ram run of titles. That, Kinsey said, supplied his team with some extra incentive. “We know some people think we’re not a top-notch team any more,” he said, “and we want to come back to that spot, definitely.”
Senior guard-forward Dom DeRegis also aided the winners’ early push, scoring seven points in the first quarter and ending up with a team-high 21. Also hitting double figures for the Red Rams were junior guard Evan Dourdas with 12 and junior forward Jacob Eich with 10, to go with a team-high 10 rebounds, one more than DeRegis.
After the first quarter CHS was able to cut the deficit to single digits only once, senior guard Zach Whelan hitting a 3-pointer early in the second to make it 24-15. Junior guard-forward Brian Cieplicki then hit a pair of 3-pointers to make it 30-15 for J-D, which led 45-28 at halftime and 60-41 going into the fourth quarter.
IN HIS FIRST GAME this season after recovering from a football injury, senior forward Teddy Phillips led the hosts in rebounding with 10, while junior forward Quinn Kennedy had nine boards and senior guard Zach Whelan eight. After being outrebounded 20-16 in the first half, CHS had a 26-22 second-half edge in that department as each team hauled down 42 boards on the night. Whelan also had four steals, while Brown dished out five assists.
“Daquan came in to start in the five-spot after we shifted Sage to point guard, and he showed his ability to score,” Milligan said. “He and Quinn worked very hard to distribute the ball, and I was very pleased with Teddy in his return.”
The foul line was another enemy of the Purple Tigers, as they hit just 12 of their 31 free throws to J-D’s 18-for-24.
“We were atrocious from the foul line,” Milligan said. “Not that it would have made for a different final outcome, but we were able to drive by their man-to-man defense and draw fouls. Hitting a few more free throws might have kept us within two or three possessions.”
CORTLAND JVs lost to J-D 64-37, the Red Rams breaking an 11-11 tie after one quarter with a 20-4 second-quarter advantage to take control. Sophomore guard Kersean Perry led CHS (1-1, 4-1) with seven points, while the visitors got 14 from Rahmell Smith and James Boeheim and 10 from Darvin Lovette.
Both Purple Tiger teams next face Homer Central Friday in the first round of the Cortland Holiday Classic, the JVs at 3:30 p.m. and the varsity at 7 p.m. Dryden and Marathon meet at 1:45 p.m. in the JV tourney and 5:15 p.m. in the varsity event.
On Saturday, the JV consolation game will take place at noon and the championship game at 1:45 p.m., followed by the CHS Alumni Game at 3:45 p.m., with all those wishing to play asked to show up at 3 p.m. The varsity consolation game is next at 5:15 p.m., with the varsity championship game wrapping things up starting at 7 p.m.
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