January 20, 2022

Cougars spurt past CHS

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

Cortland High’s Will Pace eyes the basket while guarded by Ryan Kisselstein of Corcoran on Friday at Shafer Gym.

It took about 10 minutes for the Corcoran boys’ basketball team to get things going against Cortland High Friday night in the Shafer Gym season-opener for both teams.

By halftime, it was pretty much game over.

The Cougars led 11-9 with 5:57 left until halftime before going on a 17-3 run to take control en route to what ended up a 30-14 halftime advantage. The Purple Tigers got no closer than 15 points in the second half, the last time coming in the waning moments, as Class AA Corcoran headed back to Syracuse with a 55-40 non-league win.

“I think that in the second quarter we didn’t do as good a job as we had been of making sure our two farthest offensive players got back to prevent fast breaks,” CHS coach Jeremy Milligan said. “They had three or four fast breaks in that quarter when we didn’t get back as fast. We had a couple of guys who crashed the offensive boards and didn’t get back, which gave them the long passes and layups.”

“Both teams started tentatively,” said first-year Corcoran coach Jesse Long, who coached the Cougars JV team the past few years and whose team led 44-22 heading into the fourth quarter. “Once we got settled and were able to pick up our defensive pressure it led to easier baskets. Their 2-3 zone made it difficult for us to play our halfcourt game, but with our man-to-man we were able to get some turnovers and some buckets.

“I was very pleased with the way we shared the ball; the guys were unselfish and looking for each other in transition,’ he added. “We worked hard in the preseason on applying defensive pressure, and we’ve got 11 kids who can run and play. I told them before the game to play as hard as they can and play as a team; if they do those things, we’ll have a successful year.”

SENIOR FORWARD Jahaad Henry, a Division I college football prospect as a wide receiver/defensive end, led the winners with 15 points while junior forward Vinny Frenza added 10.

“Some of our young kids stepped up, were able to get me the ball and I hit some shots,” Henry said. “They did a good job of dribble penetration, then dished the ball and I did what I do best — finish, like coach told me.”

Corcoran utilized a full-court man-to-man defense almost the entire game, which gave Cortland trouble. “We did out best to simulate their athleticism and quickness in practice, but it’s hard to adapt on the fly,” Milligan said. “We did a better job in the second half of taking care of the ball against a very intense full-court press. We had 10 turnovers in the first half and finished with 13 for the game.

“We had some good looks and scoring opportunities that didn’t fall. We were a little bit tentative because of that difficulty in simulating their aggressive defense. Give them credit. They shared the ball well and came out to compete. Congratulations to coach Long on his first varsity victory.”

Though no statistics were available for Corcoran, the visitors dominated the boards, especially offensively. CHS had 20 total rebounds, 15 on defense, with the Cougars hauling down at least 15 more caroms overall.

“They owned the offensive glass, and had numerous possessions with two or three shots,” Milligan said. “Their speed and athleticism got the best of us.”

ONE BRIGHT SPOT for the Purple Tigers was senior guard Sheridan Crane, who in his first varsity game scored a game-high 17 points — largely on the strength of 5-for-11 shooting from behind the 3-point line, to go with six rebounds and three deflections.

“Sheridan has been streaky with his shooting in the preseason,” Milligan said. “When he’s on, he’s on, and we were happy that tonight he was able to find the bottom of the net.”

Senior guard Will Pace had eight points and four deflections for Cortland while sophomore center Jay Atkins had four rebounds and three blocked shots and junior guard Garrett Reagan distributed three assists.

“I told the guys afterwards that we started the season against a very athletic and aggressive team, a difficult
opponent,” CHS coach Jeremy Milligan said. “This game will help prepare us for future opponents who are the same way.”

Before the game, a moment of silence was observed for former Cortland High teacher and coach Ron Reed, who lost his life in a September automobile accident.

THE CORTLAND JV TEAM LOST to Corcoran 85-36 despite 15 points from sophomore guard Ricky Young. The Cougars were led by sophomore guard Robert Barbosa’s 20 points while sophomore forward Brandon Denham added 16.

The visitors led 20-9 after one quarter, 39-17 at halftime and 57-31 heading into the final eight minutes, in which they enjoyed a 28-5 advantage.

Both Cortland teams host Jordan-Elbridge Wednesday in non-league action, the JV game getting things underway at 5:30 p.m.