The Cortland High boys’ basketball team did a good job of closing out its opener against Waverly Wednesday night in Shafer Gym.
After leading 24-21 at halftime, the Purple Tigers were outscored 23-9 in the third and found themselves with an 11-point deficit, 44-33, with eight minutes left to play. A slight defensive adjustment made all the difference in what ended up a 60-51 nonleague victory.
“We had to change things up a little and went to a half-court press,” CHS coach Jeremy Milligan said. “It really rattled the; they had four turnovers in the first half and seven in the second, most of those against our half-court trap in the fourth. We chiseled away and some players stepped up and made some big shots.
“We cut it to two midway through the fourth; they were turning the ball over and had to call a couple of timeouts. We were able to find a way to come down and score on each of those possessions. We went to the basket hard and got to the foul line; we hit 13 of our 14 free throws in the fourth quarter and were 18-for-22 for the game to their 4-for-16.”
Senior guard Kyle Behrenfeld hit a 3-pointer to with about three and a half minutes left in the game to give the hosts the lead for good. Making his first varsity start, senior forward John Blanchard scored 13 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter. He also pulled down 11 rebounds for a double-double and had two blocked shots. Junior guard RickyG Young, playing his first varsity game, had 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and two blocks, one of those thwarting a Wolverine breakaway during the winners’ fourth-quarter comeback. He also stepped in at point guard in the first half when (senior) Izeah Williams got into some foul trouble.
Williams had five rebounds on the night (Waverly with a 44-36 advantage on the boards) while junior guard Rory Hines had eight points and three steals.
“We had some scouting information on Waverly and were concerned with two players,” Milligan said. “They lost in the Section 4 Class B championship game to Norwich and had a lot back. Gavin Judson, a junior guard, averaged 15 points last year as a sophomore. We prepared for him and were able to hold him to 12 points; when we went man-to-man Rory did an outstanding job on him.
“Scott Woodring, their 6-6 sophomore forward, was the game’s leading scorer and went to the basket hard. Fortunately for us, he only hit three of his 10 free throws.”
Milligan also said that there was another important factor in the win. “We were talking afterwards and didn’t think that Waverly was used to an environment like our gym, not rude but loud” he said. “The support of the Cortland Crazies and the community is appreciated.”
The Cortland junior varsity team started its season by beating Waverly, 55-35, behind 13 points from Anthony Bryant.
The Purple Tiger squads are off until a week from Friday, when they visit Fulton starting with the 5 p.m JV game.