SYRACUSE, NY. – February 16, 2012 – Last night the new SRC Arena and Events Center on the campus of Onondaga Community College played host to a college athletic event for the first time, as the Lazers hosted Mid-State Athletic Conference rival Tompkins Cortland Community College. The game proved to be as spectacular as the new venue, as the Lazers came away with a 117-113 victory over the Panthers, and in the process moved into a tie with Tompkins Cortland at 7-4 in MSAC play. Both teams are one game behind conference leader Cayuga Community College with one game remaining. Onondaga’s overall record climbed to 16-11, while Tompkins Cortland fell to 12-11 overall.
Onondaga’s victory clinched a berth for the Lazers in the Mid-State Athletic Conference Tournament, to be held on February 25th and 26th on the home court of the regular season top seed. In addition, yesterday’s win qualifies Onondaga for the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 3 Division III Tournament. The regional tournament begins with first round games on Tuesday, February 28th, and continues with the final 8 teams competing at Jefferson Community College on March 2nd through 4th. The winner of the regional tournament advances to the NJCAA National Championship Tournament, to be held March 15th through 17th at Sullivan County Community College. The Lazers have now qualified for post-season play in each of their 12 seasons under head coach David Pasiak (Waterville).
In addition to last night’s game being the first to be held in the SRC Arena, it was also the final regular season home appearance for 8 Onondaga second year players. Sophomores Jordan Prior (Cortland), Tom Graf (Jordan-Elbridge), Mike Ontl (Davenport Charlotte Valley), Nick Rizzo (Vernon-Verona-Sherrill), and Steve Lothridge (East Syracuse-Minoa) started the contest, and Brandon Seibt (Central Square P.V. Moore), Jesse Gates (Liverpool), and Kevin Corbin (Cicero-North Syracuse) were called into action early in the contest. After Tompkins Cortland jumped out to a 7-0 lead, Seibt broke the ice for the Lazers. Onondaga chipped away, and took their first lead of the game, 33-32, on a rebound basket by Michael Scott (Chittenango) with 7:41 to go in the opening half. The Panthers responded and recaptured the lead, building it to 44-39 with 4:11 left in the half. A three-pointer by Jonathan Foulds (Norwich) then triggered a 10-3 Lazer run which moved Onondaga back in front, 49-47. Tompkins Cortland’s Jailaan Kinsey converted two free throws, and the teams headed into the half deadlocked at 49.
The Panthers quickly gained control at the start of the second half, scoring the first three points of the session and gradually extending their advantage until a three-pointer by Tyrone Clark gave Tompkins Cortland their biggest lead at 83-71 with 12:03 to go in the contest. Onondaga responded by extending their defense and pressuring full court, and the result was a rally which saw the Lazers finally pull even at 102 when Seibt scored off of a feed from Ian Hamm (Liverpool) with 4:20 to go. After Kinsey converted a pair of free throws, Prior connected on a three-pointer to give the Lazers their first lead of the second half. Two free throws from Clark put the Panthers back up one but a Seibt layup off of a feed from Garrett Sisson (Schenectady Mohonasen) gave Onondaga the lead back at 107-106. After Kinsey tied it with a free throw, a pair of foul shots by Gates, a rebound basket from Corbin, and a Seibt layup after a steal gave Onondaga a 113-107 lead with 1:19 to go. The Lazers were then able to protect the lead the rest of the way.
Seibt made 10 of 12 shots from the floor, including 5 of 6 from behind the three-point arc on his way to a career best 30 points. Gates added 18 points and 7 rebounds, while Prior chipped in 16 points and handed out a team best 7 assists. Hamm and Corbin also reached double figures with 11 and 10 respectively. Scott pulled down a team best 8 rebounds as the Lazers held a 56-43 advantage on the glass. Kinsey played all 40 minutes and paced Tompkins Cortland with 27 points while James Tucker added 23 and 9 rebounds and Floyd Leroy added 21 and 9 boards. Tompkins Cortland stayed in the game by converting 33 of 47 free throw attempts, compared to 24 of 35 for the Lazers. Onondaga forced Tompkins Cortland into 20 turnovers while turning it over 19 times themselves. The Lazer bench outscored the Panther bench, 89-24.
Onondaga will close out the regular season at Finger Lakes Community College on Saturday afternoon at 3 pm. If Onondaga is able to defeat Finger Lakes, the Lazers would share the Mid-State Athletic Conference regular season title with Tompkins Cortland and Cayuga if the Panthers are able to defeat the Spartans in their matchup, also on Saturday afternoon.
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