The gymnasium was packed when the Cincinnatus Lions (seeded No. 3) defeated Madison (seeded No. 6) in the quarterfinals of the Division III Class D tournament on Tuesday night. The Lions won the game in overtime with a score of 64-58.
“It’s amazing,” Cincinnatus head coach Jim Halstrom said. “I’ve coached a lot of great games here, even great games like this. I don’t know if I can compare. The crowd was absolutely spectacular. These people, this community and this school system have made it special for all of us in these last two games.
It was a tight game early on with Madison securing a ten-point lead, before Cinnatis came back down just three points before halftime. The Lions entered the half with the score at 25-28.
“In a nutshell, when they (Madison) got off to a good start, they didn’t miss,” Coach Halstrom said. “We knew we were capable of coming back. The biggest factor in this game was the last three minutes of that first half, when we came within three points. When we arrived at the locker room, everything was positive at that time. We knew then that if we did this race at another point in the game, we might not have enough left. It was perfect timing. We knew it would go all the way, and it did.
During overtime, Cincinnatus’ Cason Stafford led the way by scoring 9 of the Lions’ 16 overtime points.
“I missed a clutch scoop in the fourth quarter,” Cason Stafford said. “In overtime I really needed to step up my team because I had missed one before. I dropped 9 in overtime and it was great.
Here’s a breakdown of the scores from last night’s game:
Although Scott Schuyler said he’s been struggling with his jump shot lately, he led the Lions with 30 points in the game. After Schuyler, Cason Stafford (19 points) and Kooper Vosburg (7 points).
“I was just really happy to see some of my shots going,” Schuyler said. “I had trouble in the last games with my shooting. I was still getting points and everything, but it just wasn’t coming from the three-point line. I started hitting shots tonight, and it was really nice. It’s really due to a few staff members letting me into the gym, and I worked hours and hours to get my shot back.
Madison was led by Ethan Rivers (21 points) and Anthony Dodge (16 points).
Cincinnatus will now play the Sectional Tournament Semi-Final against 15th-seeded Town of Webb at the SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College. The start of the match is scheduled for 11 a.m. this Saturday, February 26.
When asked to reflect on the team’s progress over the past two years, Scott Schuyler said: “We’ve always been small. We were skilled, but we really didn’t have the big players with the ability to get into the paint. Obviously we’ve grown, and I think a lot of us have been working on our games during COVID. When we came back I thought we were much better than before, so it was a very nice thing to see.