The Cortland boys’ varsity basketball team closed out the season on a high note.
The Purple Tigers posted a 53-48 SCAC Empire Division victory over Oswego to celebrate Senior Night at Shafer Gymnasium. Cortland closes the season at 4-10 in the division and 7-13 overall. Oswego is 2-12 in the division and 4-15 overall.
The Purple Tigers honored seniors Connor Tierney, Ethan Myers and Antoine Jennongs prior to the start of the game as the trio dressed for the final home game.
“This was a battle between two teams who knew that tonight was the final game for their seasons,” Cortland coach Jeremy Milligan said. “We took the perspective that it was an opportunity to not only send our three seniors out with a win, but it was also an opportunity to win our final game of the season — only state champions get to do that. Considering how young the chemistry is overall on our team, this is a positive way to end of season and carry some momentum into the off-season. I was proud of the way our players stay focused tonight and grinded out a W against an athletic (and young) Oswego team.”
Oswego got off to a fair start and it allowed the Buccaneers to take a 12-9 lead after one quarter. Cortland began shooting the ball better in the second quarter while the defense allowed Oswego just eight points. Tyler Blake netted six points and Myers added a key 3-pointer as the Purple Tigers took a 22-20 lead into the halftime locker room.
Cortland shot nearly 50 percent in the third quarter with five players contributing in the scoring column as the Purple Tigers increased their advantage to 36-31 entering the final quarter.
Max Gambitta came to life in the fourth quarter as he netted nine of Cortland’s 17 points and the Purple Tigers maintained its five-point cushion for the 53-48 triumph.
Gambitta finished the night with a game high 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. Noah Armstrong pitched in with 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals while Blake netted 11 points, two rebounds and two assists for the Purple Tigers. As for the seniors, Myers and Jennings each scored five points in the game while Tierney netted two points in the first quarter and grabbed a total of three rebounds. Jennings did pulled down a team high 14 rebounds with four assists, two steals and two blocked shots. Myers had a team high five assists and two rebounds.
Cole Pratt and Keyon Johnston shared team high scoring honors for Oswego with 12 points each. Garrett Besaw was close behind with 11 points for the Buccaneers.
The Cortland JVs lost 62-47 to Oswego, but the night belonged to Robert Eaton.
Eaton had not dressed all season for the Purple Tigers, but he set a standard for his teammates and all students at Cortland High.
“Every student at CHS can learn a lesson from Robert Eaton,” Cortland JV coach Tom Murphy said. “Robert accepted a role this season to serve as our team manager. He was at every practice and worked as hard as anyone. Robert kept our scorebook for every game, he never complained, never asked for anything and never spoke a negative word. Robert Eaton defines ‘selfless.’ I can’t imagine too many other teenagers who would have made the sacrifices he made. The team and coaches decided to reward Robert by allowing him to dress and play in our final game. It was extremely satisfying to see Robert play so well and more so how his teammates embraced his moment. It’s something I will never forget.”
All Eaton did was lead the team in scoring with 14 points, including four 3-pointers, Benjamin Kanichuk added eight points while Nikolas Sutton and Gaven Truman each netted seven points. Tristan Bell-Thomas pulled down a team high 11 points for the Purple Tigers with Sutton grabbing eight rebounds.
Oswego raced to a 20-5 lead in the first quarter and never allowed Cortland back in the game.
Zach Chamberlain powered the Buccaneers with 18 points. Nate Devinny picthed in with 12 points and William Waterbury added 10 points.