The Elmira boys basketball team improved to 4-0 Friday night, though the finish was a lot more dicey than the Express would have liked.
Ithaca stormed back from an 18-point second-quarter deficit to tie the score on a putback by Jelani Fontanez with 5.9 seconds left, but Eli Thomas responded on the other end with a layup with 1.2 seconds left as Elmira won the Southern Tier Athletic Conference game, 74-71, at Southside High School.
The Express tacked on a free throw after Ithaca was called for a technical foul because it called a timeout it did not have.
Junior guard Tyler Moffe scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half as Elmira built a 43-29 halftime lead. He nailed three 3-pointers, with one of them coming at the buzzer at the end of the first quarter. Trevon Hamilton added 17 points for the defending STAC West champion Express, and Thomas scored 14.
Ithaca (2-3) scored the final seven points of the third quarter after Elmira led 57-40. The Express’ lead was at 69-57 with 3:42 left when the Little Red scored 10 straight points to get within two, Sammy Meminger’s 3-pointer capping the run.
A bucket by Thomas increased it back to four before Fontanez scored with 55 seconds left, making it a 71-69 score. After Elmira missed the front ends of back-to-back one-and-ones, Fontanez drove to the hoop and scored off his own miss to tie the score.
“I’ve got to give props to my point guard,” Ithaca coach Jobe Zulu said of Fontanez. “He really came out and put the team on his back and played a very hard game against a very good team.”
After Ithaca called its final timeout, Elmira took the ball out on its own end and got the ball into Moffe’s hands. He found Thomas for a wide-open layup with 1.2 seconds left, capping a final quarter in which he scored 11 points.
Ithaca heads to the West Genesee Holiday Tournament on Friday and Saturday.
Lansing 55, Dryden 51: On Friday at Dryden, Thomas Towner scored 10 of his game-high 25 points in the first quarter, and fellow 6-6 front-liner Ben Rourke chipped in 14 as the Bobcats (4-1) edged the host Purple Lions (3-3).
Six-foot-6 sophomore Ali Abel-Ferretti scored 11 points for Dryden, while freshman Trevor Gardner also had 11 points, plus five assists and five steals.
The game was close throughout, as Lansing led by one after the first quarter, by two at the break and by three after three quarters. Dryden cut the deficit to two several times in the fourth but could never draw even.
Dryden will head to the Cortland Christmas Tournament on Friday, while Lansing hosts its own Fred Caliel Tournament.
Moravia will take on Newark Valley in the opener at 4 p.m. Friday, with Lansing meeting Trumansburg in the second semifinal at 6.
Watkins Glen Tournament: On Saturday at Watkins Glen, Colin Gates had 13 points and seven rebounds and Luke Flahive added 13 points and six assists, leading the host Senecas past Athens (Pa.), 72-26 in a semifinal game.
Matt Estes and Joe Palumbo scored 11 points apiece and Keith Rekczis added 10 points and seven rebounds for Watkins Glen (5-1), which knocked down nine 3-pointers.
Brandon Fauver had eight points to lead Athens (3-1).
In the other semifinal, Alex Schreiber-Harris led all scorers with 17 points as Newfield outscored Odessa-Montour, 44-6 in the second half, en route to a 67-11 victory.
Devin Cooper added 11 points for Newfield (6-1), which will take on Watkins Glen in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Monday. O-M (1-5) will face Athens at 6 in the consolation game.
Marathon 60, Groton 41: At Marathon, Zach Brandstat and Matt Tebbe scored 16 points apiece as the host Olympians (3-1) outscored the Indians 19-6 in the third quarter to pull away. The Indians (1-6) were led by Michael Perkins’ 12 points.
Whitney Point 74, Trumansburg 45: At Whitney Point, Gabe Shrauger scored 35 points to lead the Eagles (5-1) past the Blue Raiders (1-4).
Zach Marsh added 17 points for the winners, who put the game away by outscoring T-burg through the middle two quarters, 41-16.
Zach Kenney had four 3-pointers among his six field goals and wound up with 16 points for the Blue Raiders, who made eight 3’s as a team.
Ithaca 72, Elmira 40: On Friday at Ithaca, Maryah Wright scored 17 points and Tatiana Minnick added 11 as the Little Red kept Elmira winless.
Ithaca outscored Elmira 22-5 in the second quarter and led, 37-14, at halftime.
Abbie Topping paced Elmira (0-5) with 10 points.
Ithaca High will take part in the Pete Hyde Coaches vs. Cancer tournament this weekend at Johnson City Middle School. The Little Red will face Chenango Valley at noon Friday in the first round.
Lansing 47, Dryden 27: On Friday at Lansing, Maura McCartney led all scorers with 18 points, including four 3-pointers, as the Bobcats cruised past the Purple Lions.
McCartney’s twin sister, Shea, chipped in 10 points for the winners, while Maggie Cole had nine to lead Dryden.
Southern Cayuga 62, Moravia 49: On Saturday at Moravia, Jessie Kopp scored 22 points — including 12-for-14 foul shooting — to lead the visiting Chiefs past the Blue Devils. SC made 19 of 24 free throws, compared to just 6-for-16 shooting for the home team, which got 18 points with four 3-pointers from Hannah Bennink.
Candor 46, Newfield 39: At Candor, Sierra Szwec scored 11 points and Miranda Russell and Mikayla Short added 10 apiece to lead a balanced attack as the Indians topped the visiting Trojans. Mariah Crawford led all scorers with 13 points for Newfield.
Marathon 55, Groton 44: At Groton, Cassidy Marsh scored a game-high 22 points as Marathon raced to a 22-6 lead after one quarter and held off the home team. Groton was led by Ebony Marshall (15 points) and Sarah Stelick (14).
Whitney Point 55, Trumansburg 46: At Trumansburg, the visiting Eagles took a nine-point halftime lead and made it stand up in defeating the Blue Raiders. Brittney Randall led the winners with 14 points, while Anna Shelley scored a game-high 20 for T-burg.
Owego Duals: Ithaca High went 1-7 and placed 10th out of 11 teams on Friday and Saturday. Richie Burke (132) and Ian VanValen (160) both went 8-0 on the weekend to highlight the injury-depleted Little Red’s showing.
Burke (19-0) became just the second Ithaca High wrestler to reach 150 career victories; 1999 graduate Brandon Lehman went 225-11 in six varsity seasons.
VanValen improved to 18-2, avenging both of his losses over the weekend.
Ithaca will compete in the Windsor Tournament on Friday and Saturday.