January 24, 2013
Purple Tigers rally to victory
Fourth quarter surge topples ES-M, 56-51
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Jackie Phillips of Cortland High takes off with the ball after stealing it from ES-M’s Ashley Scalzo, as Sydni Eure (32) tries blocking her path Wednesday at Shafer Gymnasium.
A stepped-up defensive effort in the second half and some key shooting added up to success for the Cortland High girls’ basketball team Wednesday night in a 56-51 OHSL Freedom Division win over visiting East Syracuse-Minoa.
While the Spartans’ top inside player, Gabrielle Eury, had a game-high 21 points, only two of those came in the second half. A trio of Purple Tigers — senior center Devon Tennant, sophomore forward Abby Hess and senior forward Taylor Tabel — shackled her defensively to help turn the tide.
“We played better defense on (Eury) and wouldn’t let her get inside,” CHS coach Dick Penoyer said. “We played mostly man-to-man, and those three stood out in the second half, both defensively and rebounding.
“We also hit some big shots in the fourth quarter,” he added, that stanza starting with ES-M up 43-39.
The biggest s hot came with two and a half minutes left to play, with CHS trailing 50-49. That’s when freshman guard Jackie Phillips hit a 3-pointer that put the Purple Tigers ahead for keeps at 52-50.
“After that ES-M had to scramble and foul us down the stretch, and Devon hit four free throws and Abby one... our final point.” noted Penoyer.
The Shafer Gymnasium hosts trailed by as many as 13 points early in the second quarter. CHS was still behind 31-25 at halftime and faced that four-point deficit heading into the final eight minutes.
Yet another key for the Purple Tigers was the fact that they had only 10 turnovers in the contest.
Tennant and Phillips led Cortland with 18 points apiece, Tennant with five rebounds and Phillips with four rebounds and two assists. Hess had a team-high six of CHS’s 22 rebounds. Nicole Cassella complemented Eure with 12 points for ES-M, now 5-4 in the OHSL Freedom National and 6-6 overall.
The Purple Tigers improved to 4-7 in the Freedom American and 6-7 overall. Penoyer noted that “This was a huge win for the kids. There are six teams, including us, bunched together for sectionals with the same record.”
CORTLAND JVs outscored ES-M 13-7 in the fourth, which started with the teams deadlocked 23-23, to score a 36-30 win and improve to 6-5 league and 8-5 overall. “The girls played outstanding defense and valued possession of the ball every time down the court,” coach Sarah Kleefeld said.
Freshman guard Emily Edwards had 14 points for the winners and was credited by Kleefeld for her best offensive and defensive game of the season. Freshman forward Aubrey Helchowski had eight points and eight rebounds, sophomore guard Chickie Artis seven rebounds, four steals and two assists and sophomore guard Lizzie Knout five points, also praised by Kleefeld for her defense.
Cortland’s teams host Cazenovia Friday in non-league action, the JV contest set to start at 5:30 p.m. The Laker varsity is ranked 23rd in the state among Class B teams.
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