FULTON — The Cortland High boys’ varsity basketball team has been close to getting that elusive win, but, if you looked a Monday night’s halftime score, it didn’t look like it would be ending soon in Fulton.
The Purple Tigers trailed 36-18 and the shooting percentage was hovering around 40 percent. Suddenly everything began to click on offense and defense.
Cortland made 17 of 21 second half shots and notched 48 points to rally for a 66-63 SCAC Empire Division win, snapping a 10 game losing streak. The Purple Tigers improved to 3-9 in the division and 6-12 overall. Fulton falls to 5-7, 10-7 overall.
“It’s a challenge to come back from down double digits in the second half but this was our second consecutive game in doing so,” Cortland coach Jeremy Milligan said. “Saturday were able to tie things up in regulation to then get beat by a buzzer beater in OT. I think players decided to just get the job down in regulation tonight having learned from what happened Saturday. I think tonight might be one of those games that CHS players, coaches and fans remember for a long time.”
Fulton took a 14-9 lead in the first quarter before ripping off 22 points in the second quarter and rolling to that 36-18 advantage.
“At the half, we talked about switching back to man to man and just focusing on one stop at a time and one great shot at a time,” Milligan said. “Nothing magical was discussed. The coaches simply challenged our guys to never stop fighting and compete on every possession.”
In the third quarter Max Gambitta buried a couple of 3-pointers and netted nine points while Tyler Blake scored seven points as the Cortland comeback began. The Purple Tigers cut the de cit to 49-40 as the quarter ended.
The comeback was complete in the fourth quarter. Blake scored 10 points and Gambitta added nine points in the 26 point outburst. The defense held Fulton to 14 points and Cortland walked away with the 66-63 victory.
“The grit, determination and selfless play witnessed in the second half demonstrated our potential,” Milligan said.
Gambitta had a solid all around night with a career high 24 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Blake added 19 points and five rebounds while Noah Armstrong netted 13 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Seth Grimshaw tied for game high scoring honors with 24 points for Fulton. Jack Broderick added 14 points while Dom Abbott and Marcus Shepard each collected 11 points.
The Cortland boys’ varsity basketball team will return to SCAC Empire Division action tonight as the Purple Tigers play back-to-back nights and three times in the last four days. Cortland travels to East Syracuse-Minoa for a 6:45 p.m. game. The JV game will tip off at 5 p.m.
The Cortland JV boys lost a tough 40-38 contest at Fulton Monday.
“We had the ball down by two with 13 seconds left,” Cortland coach Tom Murphy said. “We called a timeout and drew up a play which our kids executed very well. We had two shot attempts as time expired. I’m very proud of the effort. We fell behind in the second half and fought back to give ourselves a chance to win.”
Emerson Johnson led the Purple Tigers with 12 points. Nick Sutton added 11 points and 18 rebounds for the double-double to go with three assists, two steals and one blocked shot.