GROTON — It was more than just a win for the Cortland High girls’ basketball team Wednesday night.
The Purple Tigers traveled to Groton and came home with not only a 58-32 non-league win but, now 8-5 on the season, a berth in the Section 3 Class A tournament. That’s because they’ve already reached the win total needed for the mandated .400 winning percentage over the course of the 20-game regular season.
“We talked at length early on about how we needed to get Cortland girls basketball back to the sectional tournament, and with tonight’s win we did just that,” CHS coach Nolan Sinclair said. “We have now officially qualified for post-season play. Our next goal is to continue to learn and grab a home sectional game.
“Tonight’s game was our fourth road game in a row, and despite the travel and some injuries to key players the girls played outstanding. We were fortunate that we had contributions from every player on our team. Each and every girl gave everything they had to reach a goal that we had set at the beginning of the season.”
All 10 Cortland players available to play in the game ended up scoring. Lyndsie Babcock led the way with 17 points and also had seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals. Ashley Shortsleeve was deadly from long range for the winners, scoring her 12 points on four 3-pointers and also controlling six rebounds. Tsai Lewis had seven points, three rebounds and two assists and her sister Shyanne Lewis added four rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks to her four points.
Maggie Ossit led the Indians (4-8) with 11 points, complemented by Brooke Brecht with eight points and Morgan Gunn with five points.
The visitors led 18-11 after one quarter, 28-17 at halftime and 43-25 heading into the fourth.
“The girls shot the basketball very well tonight,” Sinclair said. “Our movement offensively was outstanding. We moved the ball from side to side and found open jump shooters often. We also did an excellent job finding the high post and diving to the basket for layups. The first quarter was back and forth, but after that we turned it up defensively and took advantage of some easy looks.
I am so proud of each and every girl that wears a Cortland uniform and we are all truly excited to make some noise the rest of the season.”
The Cortland JVs improved to 10-2 with a 56-31 win over Groton as Margaret Starr had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, plus eight steals and three assists while Kirsten Merritt had a game-high 18 points and five steals.
“Kirsten and Margaret are finding the holes on the floor, making plays happen and finding their teammates,” CHS coach Janice Meyer said. “All the girls on the floor are stepping up and beginning to match their intensity. We gave up a few points defensively in the second half, but we took some chances and doubled up our offense. Mallory Turner, Danielle Benjamin and Ari DeFranco made good decisions offensively and put some good shots in for us.”
Annie Felko had nine points and Framke Vitale seven points for Groton.
Cortland’s teams visit Central Square Friday with a 5:30 p.m. JV start. Groton’s squads host Tioga the same night, the JV game set to start at 5:30 p.m.