By Greg Klein
Cooperstown’s boys basketball team made it all the way to the state semifinals last season, but only three players remain from that squad and none of them had significant playing time last year.
That’s the challenge this season for the Redskins and their coach Dave Bertram.
“Experience-wise, we don’t have a whole lot back,” he said. “It’s going to be a learning experience for us.”
Cooperstown saw that in its opener Tuesday night at Bursey Gym as visiting Sherburne-Earlville used second- and fourth-quarter runs to lead it to a 57-49 victory.
“There was a lot of good out there,” Bertram said. “We played hard and the guys left it on the floor.”
After the Marauders outscored the Redskins 17-5 in the second quarter, they led 29-19 at halftime. Cooperstown made a third quarter run — despite several starters being in foul trouble — and tied the game, 36-36.
“We did that with two sophomores in the game,” Bertram said. “Grant Davine and Jack Donnelly came in and played really well for us. That was great to see.”
However, S-E scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter. Marauders forward Austin Jasper and center Sam Caton controlled the boards and made several key rebounds to start the quarter.
“I told the guys, the two reasons why we lost,” Bertram said. “No. 1, we didn’t get any loose balls, and No. 2, we did not box out. (Jasper) killed us. We did not get a body on him at all.”
Jasper had 12 points in the second quarter run and finished with a game-high 26 points. He shot 8-for-14 from the foul lines. Caton added 12 points.
For Cooperstown, Ethan Bliss had 21 points, including five three-point shots. “He is a good shooter,” Bertram said. “He is going to be key for us.”
Also key for the Redskins will be junior point guard Park Summers, who has big shoes to fill replacing Daily Star Player of the Year Jay Davine. Cooperstown will also have exchange student Noah Sims at forward until his year abroad is up at the end of January.
Nico Knull will play center for Cooperstown, and transfer Jordan Manikas — who will be eligible on Saturday after coming over from CV-S — will also be key inside.