January 20, 2022

Cortland finishes strong, beats Homer in opener

Matt Czeitner/sports reporter

Cortland’s Tyler Blake, left, goes up for a layup with Homer’s Wyatt Wilbur contesting the shot. Cortland won 60-48.

Despite leading by only four points heading into the third quarter, the Cortland boys basketball team flew to a new height in the second half to roll over its crosstown rival — the Homer Trojans — 60-48 Friday at Cortland High School.

It was back-and-forth in the first half as the Purple Tigers struggled against the Trojans’ zone, which was forcing bad passes that led to many turnovers.

But in the second half, the Purple Tigers cleaned up their passing, moving the ball much better with ball fakes and smarter passes; which ultimately led to better looks at the basket.

“I think in the second half we just calmed down some more,” Cortland coach Jeremy Milligan said. “We anticipated some zone from Homer and they played a good, scrappy zone; I give them a lot of credit. In the second half, I thought we were a little more patient and we did much better with ball fakes. I thought that was the big difference.”

Defensively, the Purple Tigers also limited the good looks for the Trojans, who found themselves down 11 heading into the fourth quarter and were unable to find their way back due to a number of defensive stops.

“Defensively, I thought we did a great job limiting their team looks at driving to the basket,” Milligan said. “We also switched from a lot of man-to-man early into zone. That was a big difference. That was a suggestion by some players who wanted to try zone for a bit and it worked out.”

Seniors Tyler Blake and Max Gambitta had strong showings for the Purple Tigers. Junior Emerson Johnson also put together a nice stat line. All played key roles in the second half as well to help lead the team to victory. Blake finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Gambitta added 11 points, five rebounds and four assists and Johnson contributed 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three blocks.

“We always look to our seniors and returning players as leaders,” Milligan said. “Max and Tyler are great kids and third-year starters. Emerson, who came off the bench for us last year, made some big shots for us in the second half. The name of the game is making shots and in the second half, we had some upperclassmen step up and make baskets.”

For Homer, Jon Barnes led the way with 17 points while Wyatt Wilbur finished with 10 points. Reid Partis (8) and Mitchell Earle (7) also had strong showings.

The Purple Tigers are happy to start off the season with a victory, especially against a team like Homer, as they hope to ride the momentum into the games that follow as they look to put together a solid season.

“Obviously starting the season off with a win is huge, and the fact that we turn right over and have our next game tomorrow afternoon gives us a little momentum heading into game two against Watertown,” Milligan said.

The Purple Tigers are back in action at 1:45 p.m. today as they host Watertown. The Trojans’ next game is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Oneida.


Xavier Scott had a monster 16-point, 18-rebound double-double to lead Dryden to its first win of the season. Scott also added in three blocked shots.

The Lions bounced back from an opening-night loss thanks to a stifling defense and just seven turnovers. Scott’s performance also helped Dryden control the glass.

Colton Dow led the Lions in scoring with 17 points, while also adding six assists and two steals. Ryan Wiser chipped in 10 points and four steals and Armando Gonzalez (8), Ceon Miles (4), Ben Hicks (3) and Owen Strickland (3) also scored for Dryden.


Brooke Tillotson’s 25 points helped get Marathon out to a 2-0 start to their season. Tillotson made seven twos and three 3-pointers.

Anna Hoyt chipped in seven points for the Olympians. Addison Oram (5), Paige Hurlbert (4), Kendra Euson (4), Bailee Hurlbert (4), Anastasia Cups (2) and Abigail Ensign (2) also scored for Marathon.


Sidni Pinckney’s six points led Dryden in defeat. Kahlen Cornell (4), Chloe Russell (3), Ava Henry (3), Abby Spano (2) and Aynalem Kinney (2) also contributed to the Lions’ offensive effort.

“Johnson City was the better team, but we had enough chances to make it much closer,” Dryden coach Laszlo Engel said. “They helped bring out the best in us overall. I am quite pleased with our progress and we will continue to improve and play hard in each and every game.”