December 5, 2021

Purple Tigers experience a little deja vu

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CORTLAND — The Cortland Purple Tigers defeated the Norwich Purple Tornado, 5948, Thursday night at Cortland High in a game that was eerily similar to their game Wednesday night against the McGraw Eagles

In short, the Purple Tigers got out to a decent start, allowed Norwich to go on an extended run and take the lead, then shut them down for much of the third and fourth quarters to pull out the win.

Only the starters scored for the Purple Tigers — and more than half of that scoring was done by Noah Armstrong (30 points, six assists, four rebounds, four steals). Max Gambitta had nine points and four rebounds; Tyler Blake had five points and 10 rebounds; Colter Gohs had seven points, seven rebounds and three steals; and Jaden Fitch had eight points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Armstrong’s 30 points are the most by a Purple Tiger in Jeremy Milligan’s nine-year tenure as head coach.

Norwich led 28-22 at halftime and was able to get their lead to double digits early in the third quarter, but the Purple Tigers came clawing back, and a three-pointer by Armstrong gave them a 36-34 lead with one minute left in the third that they would not relinquish.

“The star of the show tonight was Noah,” Milligan said. “Noah really got our and ran tonight in our transition game. He benefited from us controlling the glass.”

That three-pointer was at the beginning of a 19-0 run that was only quenched by a Norwich layup that made the score 50-36 late in the fourth — too little, too late for the visitors, who were the latest victim to the Purple Tigers, who are becoming one of the best second half teams in the state.

“After being down at the half, [we] made a few adjustments at the half on how we would defend Norwich’s player movement off the screen against our zone,” Milligan said. “The players responded. We forced nine second half turnovers, many resulting in fast break points. Our hands were much more active in the second half, tipping many passes resulting in 50/50 opportunities that we came up with.”

The Purple Tigers deflected 16 Norwich passes.

“The entire team has brought an energy and intensity the last few games that makes us dangerous down the stretch,” Milligan said. “The team is playing with a great deal of confidence.”

Keegan Franklin was the only Norwich player in double figures with 11 points.

The Purple Tigers’ next game is at noon Saturday when they host East Syracuse-Minoa in a rematch of their season opener, which ESM won.