Men's Basketball Team Goes 2-0

Men's Basketball Team Goes 2-0
The Mighty Oaks men's basketball team picked up two big wins recently in the young 2016-17 season.

The first came over the Wildcats of Cazenovia College, 66-65. It was the first win for ESF against Cazenovia in the program's history. The game started off close. The always-rowdy Wildcat fans and Cazenovia full-court press hampered the Mighty Oaks early on and they were behind 31-25 at halftime.

The Mighty Oaks stormed out in the second half, going on a 16-6 run and erasing the halftime deficit to take a 41-37 lead. The Wildcats fought their way back to bring the score closer but a pair a slam dunks by freshmen Ben Russ IV and sophomore Cole Hartman kept the Mighty Oaks ahead.

Tied at 63 with 2:52 to play, the Wildcats connected on a layup by freshman Jaceary Menes to put Cazenovia up by two. Russ answered with a layup to tie the game for a sixth time at 65 apiece with 1:43 remaining. Neither team scored until there were 11 seconds left in the game and junior Tyler Kuhn drew a foul while hauling in a rebound. Kuhn sank one of the two free throws attempts to give ESF a 66-65 lead. The Wildcats called a timeout to set up a play but Russ blocked the shot at the buzzer to give ESF the one-point victory.

The Mighty Oaks shot an efficient 18 for 32 (56 percent,) from the floor in the second half vs 32 percent for Cazenovia. The ESF team hit on three of five attempts from behind the three-point line. However Cazenovia won the turnover battle (22-11) and connected on nine of 14 free throw attempts to keep the game tight.

ESF was led by senior Ryan Caldwell's 19 points and 18 rebounds. Russ added a career high 14 points along with seven rebounds and three blocks. Menes led the Wildcats with 20 points off the bench. Solvay native Nicholas Filippi scored 17 points for Cazenovia.

Later in the week, the Mighty Oaks traveled to Alfred, New York, to face the Pioneers of Alfred State. ESF came way with a 65-52 win. The Mighty Oaks started the game ice cold as the Pioneers built a 19-4 lead eight minutes into the game. A timeout by Head Coach Scott Blair helped rally the team as the offense came alive. Senior Jared Bard, facing his former team, hit two three-pointers and baskets by Caldwell help close the gap at halftime, 28-23.

In the second half, ESF continued to pressure the Pioneers defensively, taking the lead permanently, 45-44, midway through the half. The Mighty Oaks finished the game on a 20-6 run. Junior Cory Rogers was productive off the bench, adding a career-high eight rebounds and seven points. Russ' slam and two free throws by senior Dan Treadwell gave ESF a 59-50 advantage with less than five minutes remaining. The Pioneers attempted to make a comeback by way of three pointers but were unable to convert. The Pioneers missed all 13 three-point attempts in the second half. ESF went on to win 65-52.

The Mighty Oaks defense held Alfred State to 31 percent shooting from the field and 11percent from behind the three-point line, and added seven blocks. The senior trio of Caldwell, Treadwell and Bard led ESF in scoring with 14, 11 and 10 points, respectively. Senior Marquis Edwards scored 14 points for Alfred State. The Pioneers fall to 0-6 while ESF improves to 4-3.

The Mighty Oaks are now ranked 19th nationally in the USCAA.