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High School Boys’ Basketball: Cortland rolls to title

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Cortland’s Jay Atkins, left, goes up against Chenango Forks’ Connor Borchardt in the fourth quarter Thursday.

There was little doubt as to who would be Cortland Athletic Booster Club Holiday Classic Basketball Tournarnent champion Thursday night.

After an 18-18 first quarter, Cortland High turned up the heat offensively and defensively as the Purple Tigers (3-4 overall) rolled to a 66-39 victory over Chenango Forks inside Shafer Gymnasium. The Blue Devils fell to 3-5.

In the consolation game, McGraw built an early first half lead and then withstood a furious second-half comeback by Dryden to win the consolation game 66-64. The Eagles are now 9-1 while The Purple Lions slip to 2-7.

“I don’t think anything was really said after that first quarter,” Cortland coach Jeremy Milligan said of his team’s title win. “There were players who just decided it was time to step it up. Guys started playing to their abilities. I was very pleased with our senior leadership tonight. We competed for 32 minutes like we are capable of.”

All-Tournament team selections Will Pace and Duff Steve came through with 16 and 13 points respectively. Steve added four rebounds while Pace handed out three assists. Jay Atkins chipped in with 10 points, six rebounds, six blocked shots, four assists and three steals. Garrett Reagan celebrated his 18th birthday with six points, five rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocked shots.

Sheridan Crane earned MVP honors after scoring 22 points Wednesday night and adding eight points in Thursday’s win.
“I think it’s awesome,” Crane said of his award. “I happened to be the one scoring the other night. Tonight we all were hitting on all cylinders. I was so proud of my team tonight.”

“Without Sheridan’s performance Wednesday we would not have been in the championship game,” Milligan said. “He didn’t put in as many points, but he gave us some good contributions as did both Duff and Will. The guys all understand their roles.”

Cortland started fast, as Atkins buried a 3-pointer. Pace and Steve got involved as the Purple Tigers built a 12-3 lead in the first three minutes.

Forks did not panic and battled back. All-Tournament team selection Zach Locke hit a trey at the buzzer as the Blue Devils tied the game at 18-18. Locke was the only Chenango Forks player in double figures with 14 points.

After that late first-quarter run, the Blue Devils did not look like the same team that routed Dryden the night before. Cortland used a 12-2 advantage to build a 30-20 halftime lead. and pulled away with a 24-10 edge in the third quarter.

McGraw 66, Dryden 64: The consolation game was a tale of two halves. McGraw dominated the first half, thanks to a 22-11 advantage in the second quarter, for a 36-21 halftime lead. Kevin Shorts and Jordan Cowen each had 10 points in the half. Cowen finished with 20 points and an all-tournament spot while Shorts collected 15 points. David Smith only played 10 minutes of actual time and fouled out with 12 points in the game while Dakota Stauber scored 11 points.

The second half belonged to Dryden before two Shorts free throws gave McGraw a 66-62 lead with 39 seconds left. Trevor Gardner scored 19 points in the second half including five 3-pointers to earn all-tournament honors with 28 points. A much healthier Wes Stahlman added 19 points, 15 during the second half rally that saw the Purple Lions outscore the Eagles 43-30.

Dryden pulled to within 56-55 with 4:07 to go on a Stahlman drive to the hoop before back-to-back 3-pointers put McGraw in front 62-55. Gardner scored on two treys and the Purple Lions closed to within 64-62 with 1:20 showing, but McGraw would hold on.

In JV play, Ricky Young scored 19 points as Cortland won the championship with a 54-30 victory over Dryden Thursday. Caleb Thompson chipped in with 11 points and Danny Ruggiero collected 10 points for the Purple Tigers.

Cortland led 12-4 after one quarter and built the advantage to 25-12 by halftime.

Dylan Bell paced the Dryden JV attack with 14 points. Brandon Madigon was next on the scoring list with eight points.

McGraw JVs defeated Chenango Forks in the consolation game. No score or further details were available.