January 27, 2022

Cortland rally falls short

Matt Czeitner/sports reporter

Cortland’s Kirsten Merritt, center, focuses on defending Jamesville-Dewitt’s Ava Sandroni, left, Friday at Cortland High School. Jamesville-Dewitt won 38-33.

The Cortland girls basketball team stuck with it despite trailing the whole game and put together a fourth-quarter run that put a scare into Jamesville-Dewitt. But ultimately, the rally fell short and J-D won, 38-33, Friday evening at Cortland High School.

With just under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Purple Tigers trailed by nine points — the consistent margin between the teams throughout the game. When Kirsten Merritt hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to four, anything seemed possible. Margaret Starr made a putback layup after an offensive rebound on the following offensive possession to make it 33-29.

At that point, Mallory Turner began attacking the rim, resulting in some misses. Eventually, a foul was called and she went to the free throw line and sunk both shots to make it a two-point game with 2:24 remaining.

The Red Rams’ Aniyah Neal found a wide open lane to the rim a minute later and made a layup to put J-D up 35-31.

The Purple Tigers continued to get good looks, but the shots were not falling. They also had a number of missed free throws down the stretch that could certainly have changed the outcome.

The missed opportunities gave Cortland no choice but to foul. The Red Rams hit their free throws and went up by six points with under 30 seconds remaining.

Turner scored one more bucket with 22 seconds left, but the lead was too large and Jamesville-Dewitt walked out with the tough road victory.

Despite the loss, the Purple Tigers battled, especially in the second half. Head coach Janice Meyer definitely liked what she saw from her team as they continue to improve as the season goes along.

“I couldn’t be happier with my squad, and I think we won that second half,” Meyer said. “The thing is to get better at basketball. I told the girls, ‘win or lose, we just have to take things from each game and get better every day.’”

The Purple Tigers struggled from the line, however, as they missed 16 free throws. Meyer knows that played a huge role in the outcome.

“We make those free throws, we win that game,” Meyer said.

Turnovers were also a problem for Cortland, more so in the first half. It allowed the Red Rams to get up early and maintain their lead throughout the game. The game came down to one team making fewer mistakes than the other and hitting free throws.

“The major thing was in the first half we had like 14-plus turnovers,” Meyer said. “We were just playing panicked and making mistakes that we can make against lesser teams, but we cannot make those against Jamesville-Dewitt. They made their free throws and protected the ball in the first half; those are game changers.”

The Purple Tigers were right there and had the win in their grasp — something they are not used to against the Red Rams. Cortland hasn’t beaten Jamesville-Dewitt in girls basketball since Feb. 27, 2010.

“J-D is a really strong team and we were definitely the underdog coming in,” Meyer said. “We haven’t really ever had a competitive game against them in our lives. We came in here today ready to lock it down defensively and hope that brought some of our offense. We were just looking to get some confidence on the floor and I think we definitely did that.”

Next up for the Purple Tigers is a home game at 6:45 p.m. Monday against Chenango Valley.

BOYS BASKETBALL

TULLY 75, MANLIUS PEBBLE HILL 30

After holding an 18-17 lead after one quarter, Tully blew the game open, allowing just 13 points the rest of the game. The Black Knights moved to 4-0.

Lane Edinger and Ryan Mize led Tully’s offense with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Edinger added five assists and three steals, while Mize grabbed five rebounds. Matt Congelli had a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Mick Swan and Dan Mech added eight points apiece, with Swan also dishing out six assists. Michael Reid (5), Connor Bestedo (4), Andrew Barber (2) and Kevin Wood (1) rounded out Tully’s scoring.

GAME POSTPONEMENTS

The McGraw-at-DeRuyter boys basketball game, Cincinnatus-at-FabiusPompey girls basketball game and Weedsport-at-Cincinnatus girls volleyball game scheduled for Friday night were postponed.

The Weedsport at Cincinnatus girls volleyball game has been rescheduled to Jan. 27. The other two games will be rescheduled.

School officials did not respond to a request explaining the reason for the postponements.


THIS WEEKEND’S SCHEDULE

GIRLS BASKETBALL
A-P-W at Tully, noon today

WRESTLING
Homer, Groton at Chenango Valley, today
Dryden at Norwich, 7:45 a.m. today
Moravia at home, 8 a.m. today