February 8, 2013
Purple Tigers able to cool off Cougars
Beating Class AA foe big plus for CHS
For a non-leaguer, the Cortland High boys’ basketball team’s game against visiting Corcoran Thursday night was fairly important — and, as it turned out, impressive.
The Class AA Cougars came in riding a five-game winning streak but left on the short end of a 77-59 final score. That result earned the Purple Tigers, now 16-1 overall, some extra sectional seeding points as a result of beating a team from a larger enrollment class.
“I don’t think they took this one for granted,” CHS coach Jeremy Milligan said of the visitors. “I think our defensive intensity — man-to-man with the occasional halfcourt press — and help defense, plus our rebounding, were keys. We were down five in rebounds at the half and ended up winning by six.”
The final CHS rebounding edge was 36-30.
“We also did a good job of continuing to attack the basket Isaiah (Prior) pushes the ball up court well and does a good job of going to the basket, scoring, getting fouled or finding open players,” added Milligan.
The senior point guard lived up to those words, Prior scoring a game-high 25 points — including a 9-for-12 night from the foul line — with five assists and, for good measure, seven rebounds.
“We knew they’d come out firing,” Prior said. “Defense is always a key for us, and our offensive execution really helped. Our rule is to get the ball down low before it comes back out, and Josh did a great job. He was able to get by his guy, and I just hoped to get open.
“We knew that Corcoran is extremely athletic, and that Torrence Commodore is their top scorer. He got his points, but as a team we did a pretty good job. We also knew that boxing out on rebounds would be a key.”
Senior forward Gutchess had 17 points for state-ranked Cortland, 14th in this week’s Class A polling. Junior guard Zach Whelan added 15 with five assists and four rebounds, while junior guard Teddy Phillips also had seven rebounds.
Senior forward Commodore had 22 points to pace the visitors, while freshman guard Marquis Gilbert added 16, including five 3-pointers.
The Purple Tigers led 18-17 after an opening quarter in which the lead changed hands five times. A jumper by Commodore 34 seconds into the second gave the Cougars (7-8 overall) their last lead, at 19-18, after which CHS went on an 11-2 run to get a little breathing room. After Commodore hit a free throw to make it 29-22, the hosts scored the next seven points — five by Prior — and were up by double digits the rest of the half, which ended with Cortland on top 40-28.
Corcoran scored the first six points of the third quarter, four by Gilbert, before Whelan buried a trey. After the Cougars climbed back to within five, at 43-38, Prior was fouled inside and hit a free throw before Whelan nailed another 3-pointer — he had three in the quarter and four for the game — to make it 47-38. The third quarter ended with CHS up 59-46, and the issue was never in doubt thereafter, Prior’s eight points leading the way for the winners over the final eight minutes.
“We were ready starting the second half,” Corcoran coach Tim Schmidt said. “We got it down to five or six a couple times, and number 11 (Whelan) would hit a 3-pointer at key times to keep us at bay. In the fourth quarter they executed, and we needed to take better shots. But there are no excuses; that’s a very good team.
“We came out quick and have been playing very well. I told the kids before the start that this was a trap game. We didn’t know much about Cortland; I’d seen them a couple of times and knew they were good. I don’t see any Class A team beating them, other than maybe Bishop Ludden They’ll square off again (in the sectional finals), I think.”
“My teammates can shoot, and also do a good job of getting the ball back out,” Whelan said. “It was an all-around great game for us. When they started coming back we knew we had to keep executing; we missed a couple of shots but then were able to start scoring again.”
The Purple Tigers went 26-for-50 (52 percent) from the floor in the game to Corcoran’s 21-for-56 (38 percent).
“Isaiah and Josh both had one of their best games of the season,” Milligan said. “It was an efficient game for both teams; we had 14 turnovers and they had 12.”
Cortland closes out the regular season Monday with its Senior Night game, Syracuse CBA the visitor with the JV game starting at 5:30 p.m. A win would clinch the top seed in the Class A sectional tournament for the Purple Tigers, as Bishop Ludden — the only team to beat CHS — already has two losses, to Westhill and Albany Academy from Section 2.
Thursday was Cortland’s Teacher/Coach Dedication Night, each player and cheerleader given the opportunity to dedicate the game to a special teacher or coach.
CORCORAN JVs beat CHS 66-60 as Romello Braxtron had 16 points and Jykier Adams 11. Brett Copes had a game-high 22 points and Nick Craig added 18 for the Purple Tigers (12-5).
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