EAST SYRACUSE — After host East Syracuse-Minoa scored 21 thirdquarter points Wednesday night, the Cortland High boys’ basketball team held the Spartans to just six points in the fourth quarter and scored a 57-55 come-from-behind SCAC Empire Division win.
“Down the stretch we played a little man-to-man, a little 2-3 and, on a couple of their possessions, a half-court trap,” Purple Tigers coach Jeremy Milligan said after his team had improved to 2-1 in league play and 5-2 overall. “We played great defense in the fourth quarter; in the third ES-M went 8-for- 13 from the field, and in the fourth they were 2-for-13.”
Cortland trailed 15-12 after one quarter but took a 29-28 lead into the half. The Spartans’ 21-13 third-quarter advantage put them up 49-44 heading into the final eight minutes.
“We chipped away in the fourth quarter,” Milligan said. “Danny Ruggiero, who came off the bench and played well, hit a 3-pointer for us with 2:45 left to tie the game at 53-53. They went back ahead with a basket, and RickyG Young tied it at 55-55 on a floater in the lane with 1:30 left. After we made a defensive stop, Jay T Atkins got a rebound and putback with 1:10 left for the final points of the game. “We had two turnovers in the waning moments, including one on an inbounds play that gave them the ball right under the basket with four seconds left, but we were able to defend well and keep them from scoring both times.”
John Blanchard returned from an injury with 19 points and also had eight rebounds while Atkins had 16 points on 8-for-8 shooting from the floor to go along with eight rebounds (CHS with a 31-23 advantage on the boards) and three assists. Young had eight points, five assists and four rebounds, and didn’t commit any turnovers after stepping in at point guard when Izeah Williams was injured in the third quarter and unable to return.
Rory Hines also had five assists as 19 of Cortland’s 23 field goals were assisted. Noah Barber and Williams had three assists each.
Kevin Richardson and Gabriel Holloman led ES-M (1-2, 3-4) with 12 points each while Devin Mascato-Buffaloe had 11 points and Jack Shields scored 10.
The Cortland JVs fell to 2-5 in a 63-40 loss to ES-M, Martin Monroe with 10 points and Jaeden Fitch with seven. James Ferns Jr. had a game-high 25 points and Aiden Tedesco added 10 for the Spartans.
Both Cortland teams visit Auburn Friday, the JV game set to begin at 5 p.m.