CORTLAND — The Cortland Purple Tigers avenged Monday’s nail biting loss to the Auburn Maroons with a resounding 58-40 win in their rematch Thursday night at Cortland High.
Three players scored in double figures for the Purple Tigers — Tyler Blake (11 points, four rebounds, three assists), Noah Armstrong (11 points, two assists) and Colter Gohs (10 points, six rebounds). Max Gambitta had a well-balanced game with seven points, six assists and three rebounds. Emerson Johnson added nine points, four rebounds and two assists.
Auburn’s DeSean Strachan led all scorers with 18 points. Zach Galbally added eight points.
The Purple Tigers led from start to finish, not even allowing the Maroons to tie the game. A 14-5 run opened the game. By halftime, the lead was 28-16, and it would only continue to balloon from there. They led by 20 or more for a good portion of the second half before the Maroons trimmed the deficit after both teams pulled their starters.
The Purple Tigers held the Maroons to single-digit points in each of the first three quarters. They led 45-20 going into the final frame.
Joe Leonard had another outstanding game with four points, six rebounds and two blocks. He may not lead the team in scoring, but his rebounding and vision have proven to be vital when the Purple Tigers are successful.
“Joe works hard game in game out and we are fortunate to have him as a Purple Tiger,” Cortland coach Jeremy Milligan said. “His size alters so many shots and truly frustrates opponents.”
Despite this being their third game in four days and the second half of a back-to-back, the Purple Tigers looked like they were playing with the most energy they had all week, and perhaps all season.
According to Milligan, there were two contributing factors to his team’s energy — revenge and being at full strength.
“I think the ability to avenge our earlier loss played a factor, and I think being at full strength and having Tyler back was another contributor,” Milligan said. “We came out knocking down shots. I think for most teams if you do that it’s a great way to help create positive energy and momentum.”
In addition to Blake coming back for Cortland, Auburn’s leading scorer, Troy Churney, was out with an ankle injury. With his full roster at his disposal, and the lessons learned from Monday’s game, Milligan’s squad was prepared for anything.
“We had more time to prepare for Auburn’s full court pressure,’ Milligan said. “This is what plagued us for a short stretch in the third quarter in the first match up. And being at full strength and having all 11 players eligible played another huge role.”
The Purple Tigers get one day of rest before they are back in action at 1 p.m. Saturday at home against Bishop Grimes.