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Opening night

Chautauqua Lake pulls away from Cougars for 45-32 win

OBSERVER Photo by Scott Reagle Chautauqua Lake’s Kalen Miller grabs a rebound in front of Cassadaga Valley’s Nick Russo during Monday’s nonleague boys basketball game in Mayville.

MAYVILLE — The 2021 boys basketball season tipped off Monday night at Chautauqua Lake Central School and things got off to a sluggish start.

Chautauqua Lake (1-0) and Cassadaga Valley (0-1) kicked things off with a 14-14 first half.

During the break, both teams got the reminder they were playing basketball, not a fall sport, and the play improved significantly. Chautauqua Lake, which led early, also found its groove first and pulled away for a 45-32 nonleague victory.

“We graduated eight seniors last year that monopolized most of the time,” Chautauqua Lake head coach Alex Reyda said about this year’s team. “The seniors now, played a little bit toward the end of the season last year, but they were role players. Now they have to step up and be the players.”

Where the first half was riddled with errors including bad turnovers, fouls and shot attempts, the second half looked significantly better. Chautauqua Lake was at fault for most of the shooting fouls in the first half, sending the Cougars to the charity stripe for 13 shots, but luckily for the Thunderbirds, it only resulted in three points.

OBSERVER Photo by Scott Reagle Cassadaga Valley’s Wyatt Harrington (12) puts up a shot in traffic against Chautauqua Lake during Monday’s nonleague game in Mayville.

The Thunderbirds switched their defense up before half to avoid getting into more foul trouble, but after settling down in the second half they were able to get back to playing more aggressive man coverage.

In the third quarter, on two consecutive possessions, Jalen Parkhurst grabbed steals for the Thunderbirds that resulted in points and the lead they would not lose.

“We had to go into a zone in the second quarter because we were getting into foul trouble, we don’t play as aggressive in our zone,” Reyda said. “We came out in the second half we were able to switch over and play in our man. We were much more aggressive on the ball, we started turning them over and got some layups going and getting the ball to our bigs we started to flow a little better.”

Chautauqua Lake’s bigs were the main reason with the second-half surge, as Parkhurst and Brett Meadows teamed up for 11 and 10 points in the second half, respectively. On the glass, Parkhurst had eight rebounds, Meadows had four and Lawson Ormsby had nine, helping to extend Chautauqua Lake’s possessions.

In the second half, Cassadaga Valley’s play improved, but the Cougars still struggled to really find what would work for them under first-year head coach Greg Frank.

“Our first game with a new coach and kind of just trying to figure out exactly how to play together,” Frank said postgame. “Our guys come out and play with a lot of effort, but they still have a long ways to go with execution. I was really proud of these guys as far as how hard they play. I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ll play as the season goes along.”

There was no shortage of energy from either side, which led to some very physical play. Really thriving in the fast, physical play for the Cougars were Braden LeBaron and Drake Pierce. Both LeBaron and Pierce were able to land shots from downtown twice as they reached totals of 14 and nine points, respectively.

For the Cougars knowing the speed is there is a good thing, but now getting used to finishing at higher speeds will be a point of focus.

“Our guys really struggle at speed, they’re in a big hurry all the time,” Frank said. “Often times they don’t see what is actually available and so we’re just hoping that we can keep growing as a team and learn to execute better and work together better.”

CASSADAGA VALLEY (32)

Shealy 1 0 2, Russo 0 1 1, Main 1 0 2, Harrington 0 4 4, Pierce 3 1 9, Runge 0 0 0, LeBaron 6 0 14, Schauman 0 0 0. Totals 11 6 32.

CHAUTAUQUA LAKE (45)

Testa 0 0 0, D’Anthony 2 3 6, Cole 1 0 2, Miller 1 2 4, Flurie 0 0 0, Tarr 0 0 0, Brown 0 0 0, Meadows 6 4 14, Szumigala 0 0 0, Ormsby 4 0 8, Parkhurst 5 0 11

3-point goals — Pierce 2, LeBaron 2, Parkhurst 1

Cassadaga Valley 7 7 9 9 — 32

Chautauqua Lake 8 6 16 15 — 45

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