Championship night of the Cortland Classic Holiday Basketball Tournament Friday featured two games in which the ultimate winners moved to big leads. While both squads ended up taking home the featured hardware, they did so in vastly different fashions.
The girls’ title game saw Homer Central scored 15 of the game’s first 17 points, build its lead up to 19 points three different times and then hold off a furious Cortland High rally for a 47-44 win. Then, with the boys’ crown on the line, the Purple Tigers led Moravia 17-8 after one quarter and increased the advantage at each of the next three stops en route to a 60-41 win.
Homer 47, Cortland 44: The Trojans, who improved to 4-5 with the win, led the whole way, including those 19-point margins of 24-5, 26-7 and 34- 15, the latter with 5:39 left in the third quarter. The Purple Tigers, now 6-3, closed to within nine, 37-28, at the end of the third and kept on coming in the fourth, cutting their deficit to just two twice, at 43-41 and 45-43, on baskets by Lyndsie Babcock, the latter with 28.7 seconds left.
After CHS coach Nolan Sinclair called a timeout Homer’s Katie Sovocool hit one of two free throws to make it a 46-43 game with 25.8 seconds remaining. The hosts then missed a gametying 3-pointer but pulled to within two again, 46-44, with 7.8 ticks left when Tsai Lewis hit one of two free throws. Sovocool then drained the first of two foul shots with 6.9 seconds left and, after the second one was off the mark, Cortland was unable to get a shot off before the final buzzer.
Sovocool finished with a game-high 22 points for the winners to go with eight rebounds, three steals and an assist while Jerze Joseph had 11 points, two steals and two assists and Shawnessy Earle nine points and five rebounds. Joseph was named the MVP of the tournament and Shawnessy made the all-tournament squad.
Tsai Lewis led the Purple Tigers with 12 points and also had five rebounds. Babcock scored 11 points with six rebounds as both also made the tournament team, along with Jessica Mobbs from third-place Dryden and fourthplace McGraw’s Karissa Wilbur. Shyanne Lewis had eight rebounds and three steals for CHS.
“Cortland is the only team we play twice, so they knew that Katie is our workhorse and that the offense revolves around her,” Homer coach C.J. Kudla said. “They’re the only team that’s been able to press us as long as they did. We knew that they have two fast guards in Tsai and Shyanne and used the 2-3 zoneto force them to shoot from outside. I couldn’t be prouder of these kids and how they played tonight.”
“We’ve grown a lot as a team and work together now,” Joseph said. “We’ve had a lot of late and early practices, and they’re all playing off. We knew they’d come back and that we had to keep our heads up. We just needed to make more shots than they did. Cortland played great; we just outscored them.”
Earle, a senior, noted that “This was excellent for the seniors. It was the last chance to play Cortland, and we beat them on their court and won their tournament.”
“We missed our first 10 free throws, and 17 on the game,” said Sinclair, whose team went 6-for-23 (to Homer’s 9-for-22) from the foul line. When Homer was ahead 6-0, we’d already missed three layups and six free throws while they shot the ball well. We switched from man to zone because Sovocool was getting good dribble penetration; the zone got us back in it. Homer plays aggressive and quick, and moves the ball fast so it’s tough to close in.
“I’m proud of how the girls came back; it shows they have fight.”
Both teams next see action on Friday night, Homer at Skaneateles in an OHSL Central game and Cortland at SCAC Empire foe Fulton. Both JV games start at 5 p.m.
Dryden beat McGraw 36-26 in the consolation game to improve to 3-6 on the season. Madeline Harris was the Purple Lions’ leading scorer with 10 points and also had eight rebounds while Mobbs had seven points, 15 rebounds and four steals. Wilbur had a game-high 18 points for the Eagles.
Dryden hosts Odessa-Montour Wednesday, the JV game set for 5:30 p.m., while McGraw visits Hamilton Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Cortland 60, Moravia 41: A distinct height and size advantage and a wellexecuted game plan made for a decisive victory and the championship for the Purple Tigers, who are now 5-3 on the season.
“This was a our first full game of the season,” CHS coach Jeremy Milligan said. “We’ve played a good quarter or half, but tonight was 32 minutes of solid offense and defense. We felt we could set the tempo on the glass; we knew we had a size advantage.
“We wanted to work the ball down in the low block. Jay T (Atkins, 6-7) and Caleb (Thompson, 6-3) are a touch matchup for any team. Tonight Caleb benefited from outstanding passes from multiple players who found him down low. He went 13-for-18 from the floor.”
Thompson, who was named tournament MVP, had 29 points and six rebounds. Atkins had a double-double with 10 points and 20 rebounds to 18 for the entire Moravia squad (CHS had 39 rebounds). RickyG Young, who was was named to the all-tournament team, had seven points, eight assists, four steals and four rebounds for the winners.
“We knew their strength was their 3-point shooting and we decided to engage them, pick them up man-to-man beyond the arc and not help a lot on drive so they couldn’t kick the ball back out to a shooter,” Milligan said. “They had hit 16 3-pointers in a game twice this season and hit 18 once. We held them to 3-for- 25 on threes.”
Moravia (6-2) got 12 points from Deegan Sovocool, who was joined on the all-tournament team by teammate Kaden Hooper. Hooper and Gavin Stayton each scored seven points for the Blue Devils.
The all-tournament team also included Brandon Madigan from Dryden, which finished third, and Chris Pickert from fourthplace McGraw.
The title contest saw Cortland leading 32-19 at halftime, 46-32 after three quarters and, after grabbing its biggest lead, 60-38 with under two minutes left, settling for the 19-point final margin of victory.
“It means a lot to me,” Thompson said of his MVP award. “My teammates found me open and I listened to the coaches, who told me to be physical down low. We were able to execute the coaches’ game plan really well. We just had to remember to eliminate their 3-balls and not help out inside as much.
“The crowd gave us a lot of energy and momentum. Winning our tournament is a big boost and will jump-start our run to qualify for sectionals.”
“This was the visual of a Class C team against a Class A team,” Moravia coach Todd Mulvaney said. “It was one-and-done for us against a lot of offensive rebounds for them. We changed a few defensive schemes in the second half to try to change the tempo but didn’t do enough on offense to make it work.
“This was a good learning experience; we went in with nothing to lose and an opportunity to find out weaknesses we should work on.”
“Of our 26 field goals, 19 were assisted,” Milligan said. “That’s selfless play. We also had 26 turnovers to their 15; we gave them the ball that many more times, which shows how well we played defense.”
Cortland hosts Fulton this Friday in SCAC Empire play, starting with the 5 p.m. JV game.
Dryden beat McGraw 62-61 in overtime in the consolation game. The Purple Lions were led by Madigan’s 20 points and 18 from Keegan Gesin. McGraw (6-3) was paced by Chase Curtis’s 26 points and 11 from Pickert.
Dryden overcame a 40-37 deficit after three quarters to tie the game at 51-51 at the end of regulation. McGraw led 14-7 after one quarter and 30-23 at halftime.
The Purple Lions visit Groton Friday and the Eagles are at Stockbridge Valley the same night, both following 5 p.m. JV games.