It took a solid second half for Cortland High’s boys’ basketball team to seal a victory over McGraw in the opening round of the Cortland Athletic Booster Club Holiday Classic basketball tournarnent Wednesday night.
Sheridan Crane scored 22 points as the Purple Tigers (2-4 overall) spoiled McGraw head coach Matt Martins’ return to his alma mater with a 58-49 win. It was the first loss of the season for the Eagles (8-1).
Cortland will face Chenango Forks in tonight’s 7 p.m. title game. The Blue Devils (3-4) routed Dryden (2-6) 82-50 in Wednesday’s first game. McGraw and Dryden tip off in the consolation game at 5:15 p.m.
It was a close first half, McGraw hanging with Cortland as the Purple Tigers took a 28-24 lead into the halftime locker room.
“In our wins, Sheridan has been a big part of our offense,” Cortland coach Jeremy Milligan said. “When he gets hot, he’s really on. He had a lazer-like focus on the rim. He hit some huge shots for us. We was the difference for us in hitting from the outside.
“Give Matt Martins a ton of credit,” he continued. “He has his kids working hard. They are competing and believe in themselves. They are scrappy and work hard. I was impressed with their team chemistry.”
The Purple Tigers netted the first seven points of the second half for a 35-24 cushion and the Eagles never got closer than seven points after that, trailing by as many as 15. Will Pace helped the Purple Tigers when McGraw got close with all eight of his points in the final 2:53 of the third quarter. Crane scored nine of Cortland’s 13 points in the fourth quarter.
“Will has been fighting an injury,” Milligan said. “He came in and brought a lot of energy off the bench. He’s a third-year player so we look to his leadership. I was proud of how he came in and gave us that lift in the third quarter.”
Duff Stave added 10 points for the winners.
“It’s been a while,” Martins said of his return to Shafer Gymnasium and the Cortland Crazies. “I forget what playing in this environment is really like. It was a lot of fun.
“They hit a couple of quick ones to start that third quarter,” he added. “We may have forced a few shots. All in all, I’m very proud of how the kids played tonight. We knew we were the underdog. We were right there, down by four at halftime. I really couldn’t ask any more of my guys.”
Kevin Shorts paced the Eagles with 14 points. Jacob Cowen netted 12 points, with David Smith collecting 10.
Chenango Forks 82, Dryden 50: Chenango Forks took full advantage of a weakened Dryden squad that had to rely mostly on Trevor Gardner for its points. The Purple Lions’ other big scorer, Wes Stahlman, has been battling sickness all week and was limited in his playing time.
Gardner scored 20 points with Dakota Brunner adding 10 points, but Dryden fell behind 13-2 in the first quarter as Chenango Forks ran the floor like the Blue Devils football team did. Chenango Forks was hot while the Purple Lions struggled from the field and the foul line.
Parker Urso led the Forks attack with 22 points, including five 3-pointers. L.J. Watson netted 13 points for the winners with 10 points each from Matthew Paske and Zach Locke.
In the rout, the highlight of the game was Chenango Forks junior Jason Samsel, who has cerebral palsy. Samsel took several 3-point attempts before hitting his mark with 16 seconds left for the final points of the game.
In JV play, Cortland and Dryden were to meet in the 1:45 p.m. championship game today, with McGraw and Chenango Forks in the consolation game at noon.
Cortland was a 54-50 winner over McGraw as Caleb Thompson pumped in 15 points. Jordan Shortsleeve added eight points as the Purple Tigers won the tight contest. Maurice Peterson led all scorers with 22 for McGraw.
Dryden got 21 points for Dylan Bell in its 52-44 victory over Chenango Forks. Orion Sprague added 13 points and Sean Peck chipped in with 11 points as the Purple Lions held off a late Forks rally. Aidan Ackerson had 18 points for the Blue Devils while Noah Raymond added 11.