Cortland’s historic season ends after a heartbreaking loss in the state semifinals (Photos & Interviews Included)

A special thank you goes to Visions Federal Credit Union for partnering with us to provide the greater Cortland County community with additional sports coverage

Cortland girls basketball team huddles up one last time after losing in the class B state semifinal game vs. Waterloo. (Photo provided by Timothy A. Bennett, Owner & Publisher of The Cortland Voice).

The Cortland Lady Purple Tigers lost a heartbreaking game against the Waterloo Tigers in the semifinal round of the NYS Class B Tournament at Hudson Valley Community College Friday morning. 

Cortland lost the game with a final score of 50-73. 

This was Cortland’s first ever trip to the state tournament’s final four.

Cortland entered the game ranked fourth in the state for Class B, according to the New York State Sportswritres’s Association. Waterloo came into the game ranked third in the state.

The Purple Tigers had a rough start to the game, with Waterloo playing a full court press defense, forcing Cortland to make multiple turnovers and fouls at the rim. 

However, Cortland was able to end the opening quarter down 7-11. 

Following the jitters from the first quarter, Cortland made a comeback to make it a close game with multiple 3-pointers from Kendall Mack, Valerosa Gambitta and Mallory Turner. 

Cortland ended the half with a 29-28 lead. 

Waterloo entered the third quarter on a mission. They went back to their full court press, forcing Cortland to yet again have multiple turnovers. Waterloo took advantage of Cortland’s mistakes and knocked down multiple three pointers to outscore Cortland 8-30 in the third quarter

Cortland trailed 37-58 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

“The wheels came off in that third quarter unfortunately,” said Cortland head coach Janice Meyer. “They (Waterloo) had a huge third quarter, and we couldn’t really dull the bleeding.”

Cortland entered the fourth quarter with many of its players in foul trouble. Both Claire Turner and Valerosa Gambitta fouled out in the final quarter. 

The Purple Tigers kept making an effort to push the ball up the court to come back into the game, but the deficit was too large to overcome. 

Here is a score breakdown of the game:

Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Cortland 7 22 8 13 50
Waterloo 11 17 30 15 73


Throughout the game, Cortland was led by Valerosa Gambitta (14 points, 2 assist, 7 rebounds & 1 steal), Kendall Mack (14 points, 4 assists, 6 rebounds & 3 steals), and Mallory Turner (11 points, 2 assists, 3 rebounds & 1 steal). 

Waterloo was led by Morgan Caraballo (18 points, 1 assist, 4 rebounds & 1 steal), Natalie Disanto (16 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound & 6 steals), and Jazzmyn Lewis (15 points, 7 assists, 8 rebounds & 7 steals). 

With this loss, Cortland ended their historic season with an overall record 21-5.

Waterloo is now scheduled to play in the Class B NYS Championship against Putnam Valley at 5:15pm This Saturday (March 18th) at Hudson Valley Community College. 

Cortland girls basketball team’s thoughts on the season:

Kendall Mack: “Our goal was to go to sectionals. We did not know that it would end with us coming to the state final four. It feels really great to accomplish that. Now we need to keep getting better and keep practicing harder. Now we know what to expect when we come into these things.”

Mallory Turner: Turner spoke of believing in her team winning sectionals since the beginning of the year, however she spoke of being surprised of how far they went past sectionals.

She said, “The level of competition is so high. Once we were here, I felt great support from the community. It made my confidence go up. It made me feel better.” 

Valerosa Gambitta: “It was an incredible experience. I think that what made it even more amazing is that a lot of people doubted us. So getting this far just proves how hard we worked. I am really proud of the team. We hope that next year we can go even further.” 

Coach Meyer: “I said when we gathered up after the game that I’ve never been more proud of any other team as much as this year. What they have accomplished this year together has been nothing short of remarkable and ridiculously impressive.” 

Meyer continued, “We are going to miss our seniors greatly. I am hoping that we can bring their spirit back here with us next year. What they have brought to this program over these years has been unmatched. They put it all on the floor every single game. Mallory Turner and Ryleigh Larkin, we thank them from the bottom of our hearts and we wish them the best in their future.”  

Here are some photos from Cortland’s semifinal game (Photos provided by Timothy A. Bennett, Owner & Publisher of The Cortland Voice):

A special thank you goes to Visions Federal Credit Union for partnering with us to provide the greater Cortland County community with additional sports coverage