Dec 14, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
With a pair of high-profile home victories, the undefeated Corcoran boys basketball team became a clear-cut Section III Class AA favorite — and proved, at least, that the balance of power in city basketball may have shifted south.
And with its own high-profile win in the Thruway Shootout Saturday at Cicero-North Syracuse, the Corcoran girls team improved to 3-0 and, again, showed it could handle late-game pressure.
The boys Cougars had only played once (rallying to beat Vestal) prior to last Wednesday’s game against city rival Henninger. But Corcoran used strong, consistent defense and scoring balance to pull away and register an impressive 66-46 victory over the Black Knights.
Already ahead, 14-10, going into the second quarter, Corcoran built on that margin by holding Henninger to just seven points the rest of the half to make it 28-17 going into the break.
Through an active third period, the Cougars maintained that margin, then got away in the late stages by wearing Henninger down, leading to turnovers and baskets.
A quartet of Corcoran seniors scored in double figures, led by forward Algeron Torrence, who had 15 points. Close behind, guard Riley Stroman had 12 points, while fellow guard Martino Barletta had 11 points and guard Marsean Brown produced 10 points. Brandon Reed helped out with seven points. By contrast, only one Henninger player, Kadeem Johnson (10 points), hit double figures.
This served as a prelude to Friday night’s exciting battle with Fayetteville-Manlius, whose 2-0 start had included wins over Fairport and Liverpool. By switching up its defense and making all the key plays down the stretch, Corcoran rallied for a 56-52 victory over the Hornets.
Here, it took a while for the Cougars to get on track, as it fell behind 17-8 in the first quarter. And it still trailed, 30-20, at the break, so while it was doing a good job containing F-M’s leading scorer, Brian Zapisek, Corcoran had to change its approach, or risk defeat.
The solution for head coach Tim Schmidt was simple — full-court pressure. By challenging every inch of space as the Hornets tried to move the ball around, Corcoran caused a series of turnovers and, with a 20-7 domination of the third quarter, moved out in front.
F-M answered in the final period by going to Zapisek, who had 10 of his 16 points in that frame as the Hornets seized a 52-48 lead with two minutes to play.
Corcoran would get one more run, though, beginning with Torrence’s basket that caused Mike Lee to foul out. Increasing the pressure, Brown would get steals on each of F-M’s next two possessions — which led to a free throw, then a basket that pushed the Cougars out in front, 53-52 with a minute left.
Still aggressive, Corcoran’s Dewan Bohannon forced a steal (F-M’s 23rd turnover of the night) and basket to increase the margin to 55-52, and Brown’s free throw with 27.2 seconds left gave him 13 points and put the game out of reach. Torrence and Bohannon each had 10 points, with Stroman adding eight points.
As this went on, the Corcoran girls team, at 2-0, was getting itself ready for a return to action, two full weeks removed from winning the Lady Raider Classic in Utica. The Cougars would meet Greece Arcadia (Section V) in Saturday’s Thruway Shootout.
It would prove exciting, with both sides making second-half runs before Carrie Blunt’s free throws provided the margin for a 59-57 victory over the Titans.
Greece Arcadia had just tied it, 57-57, on Ashley Armstrong’s basket with 38 seconds to play. Armstrong led both sides with 21 points, seven of them coming in the fourth quarter.
Corcoran worked it down until Blunt was fouled with eight seconds to play. Showing no nerves, Blunt hit on both free throws, and the Titans could not respond.
Without showing much rust from the two-week layoff, Corcoran traded baskets with Greece Aracdia throughout the first half and only trailed by two, 35-33, at the break. Then, just like the boys the night before, Corcoran charged in front in the third quarter, outscoring the Titans 17-7 by playing well on both ends of the floor.
Still, Greece Arcadia stormed back with a 15-7 push of its own, rallying even though its biggest star, Shy Britton (who had 15 points), fouled out early in the fourth quarter.
Zephrah Pam, with 18 points, led Corcoran’s attack as Coreisha Hickey got 15 points. Ayana Bradley (10 points) also hit double figures as Blunt and Nadia Jackson each gained eight points.