In a hard-fought battle that went into double overtime, the Cortland Tigers earned their first playoff win in a 58-55 victory over the Syracuse Academy of Science Atoms.
“The seniors stepped up and played hard,” Cortland Tigers head coach Jeremy Milligan said. “We had some great leadership from multiple positions. The SAS team is athletic...They came back and hit some big shots. Our players made enough free throws down the stretch to build a bit of a lead during overtime.”
At the end of the fourth quarter, Cortland was down by two when Caleb Thompson stepped up and made a clutch layup over two SAS defenders to tie the game at 49-49. With 31 seconds left SAS had the ball, but could not finish because of the Tiger’s great defense forcing it to the first overtime.
SAS had an opportunity to win the game with 31 seconds left in regulation, but the Tigers’ stellar defense forced the game into overtime.
Both teams only scored two points in the first overtime period, all of them coming from the free throw line. The Tigers were down by one with about a minute left when senior center Jay Atkins came in clutch, hitting both of his free throws to give the Tigers a lead.
With only three seconds left in the first overtime period SAS senior Zevion Derby was fouled and brought to the line. Cortland fans made plenty of noise to try and shake Derby, but he went 1-2 from the line to force double overtime.
Heading into double overtime , the Tigers went into offensive mode with senior point guard Ricky Young making clutch passes to both Atkins and Thompson for open shots. With a 57-55 lead, Young was fouled and sent to the line, where he converted one free throw to extend the Tigers’ lea to 3 points with just a few seconds left.
With the clock winding down, SAS was forced to attempt a three point shot in order to tie up the game, but Young once again stepped up and blocked the shot, winning the game for the Tigers.
“We were fired up coming into overtime,” Young said after the game. “This was the first overtime we ever had. We kept fighting and never stopped. We had to make sure to get in the paint and try to hit some threes. We did everything we could do to finish it off.”
Young finished the game with 12 total points, while Thompson led the Tigers in scoring with 20 points. Atkins scored 17 points, 6 of them coming in overtime.
The Tigers will be going away to face the Jamesville-Dewitt Red Rams on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m.