October 26, 2021

Cortland repeats as champion

Purple Tigers down Moravia in title game

Photos by Katie Vartanian/contributing photographer

Cortland’s Noah Armstrong, the tournament MVP, makes a pass during the championship game of the Cortland Classic Basketball Tournament Saturday at Shafer Gymnasium. Armstrong scored 23 points in the Purple Tigers’ 51-43 victory over Moravia in the title game.

Championship night of the 2019 Cortland Classic Basketball Tournament featured a pair of exciting games Saturday that were close to the finish and saw host Cortland High take home the championship for the second straight season.

The Purple Tigers were a 51-43 winner over Moravia in a rematch of last year’s title game. McGraw was able to get back on track in the consolation game defeating Dryden 57-53.

Cortland 51, Moravia 43: It was a back-and-forth affair all evening in the championship game, seeing multiple lead changes throughout the first half and a tightly contested second half.

Moravia (4-4 overall) opened the scoring with a three-pointer by forward Deegan Sovocool. Cortland (4-2) would get on the board themselves on the next possession thanks to point guard Noah Armstrong’s first bucket of the game.

The Purple Tigers would take their first lead of the game after guard Max Gambitta would lay it in off an offensive rebound to give the Purple Tigers a 10-9 lead with under a minute to go in the opening quarter. Cortland would extend the lead to three points as forward Jaden Fitch put in a layup just before the buzzer.

Moravia would tie the game back up at 12-all after forward Joshua Cespedes knocked down his only threepointer of the game. Following a Cortland basket, Blue Devils guard Justin Pettit knocked down his first of three second quarter three-pointers to give Moravia the lead again, 15-14.

Gambitta would make back-to-back layups to give the host a three point advantage and force a Moravia timeout with 5:13 left in the second quarter.

Following the timeout, the Blue Devils would go on an 8-0 run to finish out the half. The run was keyed by a pair of makes from long range by Pettit as Moravia would head into the midway break leading 23-20.

“We had a little bit of a stalemate in the first half,” Cortland head coach Jeremy Milligan said. “Moravia is quick and adjusted their zone to start trapping on the wings, which forced us to turn the ball over too much.

Coming out of halftime, the Purple Tigers played with a new level of intensity and rode the hot hand of Armstrong to retake the lead.

Armstrong hit back-to-back shots from long distance to put Cortland up. He would add a third triple with just under two minutes left in the quarter to increase the lead to six, the biggest lead of the game up to that point for either team.

“I just tried my best to keep getting open,” Armstrong said. “My teammates were able to find me while I was hot and I just tried to finish.”

The biggest change in the game for the Blue Devils was the increase in turnovers and a rebounding margin that was not in their favor, as they allowed Cortland to grab 17 offensive rebounds.

“It’s something we’ve struggled with this year,” Moravia head coach Cory Langtry said. “We haven’t done a good enough job making contact on bodies.”

Cortland would enter the final period leading Moravia 37-31. Following a pair of makes at the charity stripe by Cespedes, Armstrong would once again answer for the Purple Tigers by hitting a floater.

Trailing by seven points midway through the last quarter, the Blue Devils showed fight. A pair of triples by Ryan Robbins and a Pettit layup would bring the Blue Devils to within two points with just 1:15 remaining.

That would be the closest they would get, failing to capitalize on a crucial Cortland turnover in the final minute.

Armstrong would ice the game, knocking down a pair from the free throw line with 11 seconds left to put the game out of reach.

“I thought we played with good energy tonight,” Langtry said. “We struggled offensively and with rebounding. If that energy keeps up the rest of the season, I know the offense and rebounding will come around.”

“As the game ended, our guys started making some adjustments defensively,” Milligan said. “We had a couple of big stops and blocks in those final two minutes that helped us hang on.”

Cortland was led by tournament MVP Armstrong, who scored a game high 23 points, 15 of which came in the second half. Gambitta and Tyler Blake chipped in with eight points apiece for the Purple Tigers. Ethan Myers joined Armstrong on the All-Tournament team.

“It feels amazing,” Armstrong said about the win. “We’ve put together a few good games in a row and we’re going to try to keep it going.”

Moravia was led by All-Tournament team selection Pettit, who had 13 points in the loss. Gavin Stayton, who was also selected to the All-Tournament team, posted eight points for the Blue Devils.

McGraw 57, Dryden 53: In a game full of swings, the McGraw Eagles were able to get back on track by taking down Dryden in the consolation game.

McGraw (5-3) began the game on a 19-2 run, thanks in part to guards Caleb Smith and Evan Ignatowski capitalizing on layups in the early going.

Dryden’s Xavier Scott (13) battles McGraw’s Brent Thomas (15) and Caleb Smith (23) for a rebound during the Cortland Classic consolation game Saturday. McGraw got the win over Dryden, 57-53.

Dryden (0-8) would start to fight back behind seven first-quarter points from guard Ethan Hicks and head into the second quarter down 24-10.

The Lions would dominate the second quarter after Smith picked up his second foul of the game just over a minute into the period. Smith would watch from the bench as Dryden outscored the Eagles 13-2 in the quarter.

Center Xavier Scott had a big impact for the Lions in the quarter, dominating the glass and blocking multiple shots, helping Dryden head into halftime down just three points.

“Our energy level was night-and-day compared to yesterday,” Dryden head coach Zack LeViere said. “Our veteran leaders Patrick Murphy, Kevin Gardner and Ethan Hicks also helped settle us down a bit.”

Coming out of halftime, the Lions would take their first lead of the game, 27-26, after back-to-back layups byGardner and Hicks. McGraw would retake the lead, 32-31, with under four minutes to go in the third quarter following a pair of layups by center Brent Thomas.

Following a Dryden timeout, the Lions would score four quick points to head into the final quarter up 35-32.

Dryden’s Scott would pick up his fourth foul less than a minute into the last quarter, allowing an opening in the paint that the Eagles would use to retake the lead. Smith was able to get going again inside and from the charity stripe, where he hit 9 of 10 free throw attempts in the game including six in the final period.

McGraw would increase the lead to 12 with less than three minutes to go after a pair of makes from 3-point range for guard Dominic Cook.

Dryden would try to claw back in the final two minutes behind seven quick points from Gardner and would cut the McGraw lead to just two points following a corner 3-pointer from forward Ashton Hodgson.

“We let them get back into it right at the end because their pressure forced some turnovers,” McGraw head coach Derek Allen said. “Dryden kept fighting the whole way and made it tough on us.”

Lin iced the game from the line with 2.2 seconds remaining, knocking down a pair of free throws to give the Eagles the 57-53 victory.

McGraw was led by Smith’s 23 points as he was selected to the All- Tournament team. Ignatowski chipped in 12 points for the Eagles.

Dryden was led by All-Tournament selection Hicks, who had 17 points in the loss. Gardner was close behind with 16 points for the Lions.

IN JV ACTION

Moravia 53, Cortland 51: In an exciting back and forth affair, the Moravia JV team was able to defeat host Cortland in the JV championship.

The Blue Devils led 14-9 after the first quarter, but would head into halftime trailing 24-20. Moravia would retake the lead after the third quarter, going up 34-30 heading into the final period. The Blue Devils would hold on in the fourth despite being outscored.

Moravia was led by eighth grader Abram Wasileski’s 23 points. Fellow eighth grader Aiden Kelly had 11 points for the Blue Devils.

Cortland got 24 points from Emerson Johnson. Gaven Truman added 18 points for the Purple Tigers.

Dryden 50, McGraw 28:
Dryden used a pair of big quarters to take down McGraw in the JV consolation game.

The Lions led 9-2 after the first quarter and would take a 22-9 lead into halftime. Following the break, a tightly contested third quarter would see the Dryden lead rise by just three points, heading into the fourth quarter up 30- 14. The Lions would close out McGraw in the fourth using 18 points to seal the deal.

Dryden was led by Ryan Wiser’s 17 points. Antonio Gonzalez had 11 points in the Lions’ win.

McGraw was led by Mason Eaton, who had eight points in the loss. Matt Heath chipped in seven points for the Eagles.