Charlotte Valley defeats South Kortright Rams in sectional play
By John Bernhardt
For parts of six different decades, he has patrolled the sidelines at Davenport boys’ basketball games. The Wildcats’ Lee Fisher is a local coaching legend. This week, Davenport added to their coach’s impressive championship ledger by downing South Kortright, 46-37, in a Section IV, Class D semifinal Thursday night, then giving Fischer his ninth Section IV Crown with a 39-30 win over Southern Cayuga on Saturday.
Fisher’s basketball accomplishments speak for themselves. The affable Davenport mentor is chugging along, headed toward 550 victories. His teams have won 10 Delaware League championships and have reached the New York State Final Four on three different occasions.
Even so, this year’s Sectional crown has to be especially pleasing to Fisher. Last season’s Wildcat campaign was a disappointing one. For the first time in his lengthy coaching career, his Wildcat squad failed to qualify for post-season play. With added maturity, a healthy dose of basketball defense, and that Fisher magic touch, the 2014 Wildcats transformed into champions.
It wasn’t easy. Davenport’s Kyle Wamsley played a pivotal role for the Wildcats in the early going. The burly center had a hand in almost every Wildcats’ score in the opening frame. Cutting down the lane, Wamsley took a pass from Kyle Moorby along the baseline for an inside score nabbing the game’s first basket. After Griff Metzko and Ty Faulk scores for SK, Wamsley and Moorby reversed their scoring sequence when Wamsley dumped a pass to the block where Moorby scored and was fouled. His charity shot gave Davenport a 5-4 lead. Wamsley used another high-post pass, this time skipping a pass from the post to the right of the key where Josh Davi fired home a three-point score.
Fault canned a jumper from the left corner to narrow Davenport’s lead to 8-6. The Wildcats’ pesky guard, Matt Finne picked a Ram pocket converting a layup for a four-point lead just before the quarter break.
But, Wamsley went to the bench with his second foul before the quarter had ended. Wamsley’s loss was a Wildcat blow severely slowing the Davenport offense. With five players scoring, South Kortright outscored the Wildcats 12-5 in the second frame to take an 18-15 lead by the half.
The pace quickened and the tension mounted in the third quarter. Davenport’s Corey Hartman and Davi got the lead back for the Wildcats by hitting back-to-back three-point shots from the exact same spot, putting Davenport ahead, 21-18.
That lead change was the first of nine in the third quarter. Griff Metzko’s six points and two assists were pivotal for SK during the quarter. Finne’s penetration played a big part in Davenport’s offensive effort, the gritty guard scoring six points of his own during the period.
With SK in front, 31-29, Finne hit a baseline jumper to tie the score. Finne’s field goal started a 10-point Davenport run that closed the third quarter and ran through more than three minutes of the final frame. Cory Hartman’s steal and bounce pass to Moorby resulted in a score with Davenport in front, 33-31, heading into the final eight minutes of the game.
A Hartman drive and jumper one step in front of the foul line upped the lead to four. Moorby finished a fast break with a layup, and when Davi anticipated a Rams’ cross-court pass, picking the ball out of the air and taking it coast-to-coast for a score, the Wildcats led, 39-31 with 5:30 remained on the clock.
Ty Faulk hit both ends of a one-on-one for the Rams to stop the Wildcats’ scoring spree, but Davi used a hesitation dribble to scoot past the defense for a score. Fault ignited the SK crowd by bouncing a shot off the front of the rim, and then swished a shot from near the foul line after a long offensive rebound. With 2:51 to play SK had cut the lead to 41-37.
It appeared SK would get even closer when Ty Magnan made a strong drive from the left wing to the basket but after banking off the backboard, the ball almost hung on the rim before falling away.
Davenport used the foul line effectively in the closing minutes, scoring the game’s final five points from the charity line.
Metzko and Faulk led all scorers with 14 points apiece for SK.
Balanced scoring carried Davenport with all five starters netting six or more points. Moorby, who drew the tough defensive assignment of slowing down SK’s Ty Lamport, had a team-high 12 points, followed by Finne and Davi with 10, Hartman with eight and Wamsley with six.
SK finished the season at 15-5. The win and Davenport’s Section IV championship victory over Southern Cayuga raised the Wildcats’ record to 20-1. Davenport will battle Section 3, Class D champion New York Mills in Syracuse on Saturday.