November 30, 2021

Cortland building on successful offseason

High School Boys Basketball

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After losing several players from last season, the Cortland boys basketball team returns two key starters and has a number of players set to take on bigger roles as it looks to make some noise in Section III after going 10-6 in the COVID-shortened season.

“We lost six quality program players last season,” Cortland head coach Jeremy Milligan said. “That group of players that graduated were high-character kids … I was sad to see them go.”

The players who have moved on are Joe Leonard, Owen Riley, Colter Gohs, Jaden Fitch, Alex Musci and last year’s leading scorer, Noah Armstrong. Armstrong, Leonard and Riley are now all involved with athletics at the college level.

The Purple Tigers’ two returning starters are senior point guard Max Gambitta and senior forward Tyler Blake. Both are two-year starters and will be expected to take on much bigger roles both on the court and from a leadership standpoint this season.

“Both players have the ability to score,” Milligan said. “Max’s quickness and athleticism can cause issues for opponents on the defensive end, while Tyler has the ability to clear massive amounts of boards while also altering or blocking lots of shots for those that dare to bring it into the paint. These two players will be fun to watch perform on the court.”

The other returning seniors are Jack Waldbauer, Nick Yonta and Jonathan Novatka.

There are a couple of juniors ready to take on much bigger roles as well. Forwards Emerson Johnson and Marvin Bell have improved greatly in the offseason, Milligan said.

“Emerson Johnson has put a large amount of time into his game in the off-season and should provide a nice offensive spark for us this year; Emerson was our sixth man last year as a sophomore,” Milligan said. “Marvin Bell (up from JV) has also made great progress with his game and strength in the offseason. Marvin will be able to provide a balanced game at both ends of the court for us and will pose some matchup problems for opposing teams.”

The importance of the offseason is huge, especially for younger players looking to further develop their game.

Cortland has taken full advantage of a normal offseason after the complicated and rushed one of last season.

“The preseason truly began for us last summer when we are able to run our summer league and get players into the gym to start allowing them to get up shots and work on their game,” Milligan said. “We have lots of players in the program who took advantage of time to work on their game and to also play in summer league. Our actual preseason so far this year is providing us time to gel, get into better shape and become more accustomed to new roles within the program. I feel fortunate to have 13 fantastic young men on the varsity team.”

Rounding out the rest of the Cortland roster are juniors Gaven Truman, Carter Baum, Danny Reagan and Ben McGrath, sophomore Robbie Atkins and freshman Caden Albright.

The Purple Tigers begin their season on Dec. 3 when they host their cross-town rivals, the Homer Trojans, at 6:45 p.m.