The McGraw varsity boys basketball team had a successful first round sectional win last night, defeating New York Mills 84-61 at home.
It was a slow start for the McGraw Eagles, as they struggled to score at the beginning of the first quarter. Down 8-16 with about two minutes left in the quarter, the Eagles took a game changing timeout.
“I told them that we need to push the ball faster, and up tempo,” said McGraw Head Coach Derek Allen. “We started playing harder defense, and it really paid off.”
After the timeout, the Eagles came back to take a 19-18 lead with junior Caleb Smith scoring five points quickly and senior Devon Ackley hitting two straight 3-pointers (one buzzer beater). The Eagles led 37-31 at the half.
In the second half, McGraw began to fire on all cylinders with senior Evan Ignatowski leading the charge by scoring 17 points in the second half. A lot of McGraw’s second half points came from breakaways.
“We wanted to push the basketball,” said Coach Allen. “I felt like we had better athletes than they did, and we were able to do that a lot in the second half; but the only way to push the ball up the court is if you play good defense.”
According to Coach Allen, McGraw's priority on the defensive end, was to keep New York Mills guard Logan Copperwheat to 20 points. He ended the night just above the mark with 22.
The Eagles were led by Smith’s double-double (28 point and 11 rebounds). Ignatowski scored 24 points, while Ackley recorded 12 points and five assists on the night.
Up next, the Eagles will take on the #2nd seed and defending Section III Class D champions, Lyme (19-1) on the road on Tuesday, February 25th. (Time of the game is yet to be announced).
“I got one hundred percent confidence in my team,” stated Coach Allen. “They are playing really well at a good time. I really think that we can make the trip up to Lyme, hopefully give them a run for their money, and come away with an upset victory."
Here some video game highlights, postgame interviews, and a photo gallery of the game (All photos are provided by Ross Cohen/Cortland Voice):