CORTLAND — For the second time in three days, the Cortland Purple Tigers defeated the Fowler Falcons in boys’ basketball action.
Thursday’s victory, however, was by a much more comfortable margin, as the Purple Tigers won 53-39 at Cortland High.
The difference between Tuesday’s four-point squeaker and the rematch Thursday was the way Cortland was able to control the inside game, particularly rebounding.
The Falcons outclassed the Purple Tigers Tuesday with 18 offensive rebounds. Thursday, they were held to just eight offensive boards, and the Purple Tigers out-rebounded the Falcons overall 28-24.
Like Tuesday’s game, Noah Armstrong was the Purple Tigers’ leading scorer with 22 points, eight rebounds and four steals.
“Noah looked more comfortable on the court tonight, finding ways to create scoring opportunities with and without the ball,” Cortland coach Jeremy Milligan said. “He provided great leadership tonight.”
In addition to Armstrong’s eight rebounds, Joe Leonard contributed six rebounds and three assists. The 6-foot-9 senior center’s play the past week has been a sight to behold, according to Milligan.
“Joe has stepped in the last two games into a starting role and has produced,” Milligan said. “His sheer presence is intimidating and causes problems for opposing players driving into the paint. We have been very pleased with Joe’s performance.”
Throughout the second half, the formula for the Purple Tigers was getting the ball down low, getting high percentage shots and getting Fowler into foul trouble. The Purple Tigers got to the free throw line 12 times in the second half compared to eight for Fowler.
Max Gambitta added 16 points, four rebounds and five steals for the Purple Tigers.
“Max’s defensive intensity and ability to read passes in flight and pick them off was impressive,” Milligan said. “Max also went to the hoop hard tonight, scoring consistently around the hoop.”
One stat that doesn’t show up on the traditional stat sheet is deflections. The Purple Tigers track them, and Jaden Fitch was incredibly active in their 2-3 zone, registering five deflections to go along with 10 points, six rebounds and two steals.
“Overall, tonight was a great team effort and will hopefully begin some momentum as we move forward in our season,” Milligan said.
The Falcons’ Jaylen Brantley matched Gambitta as the high scorer on the night with 22 points. He was the only Falcon in double figures.
Cortland’s next game is 3 p.m. Saturday in the second game of a doubleheader with the Purple Tigers girls’ squad as they both host Homer.
The boys’ game will serve as their Senior Day.