Lakers battle Cardinals for supremacy

Sophomore Brian Sortino has his eyes set on leading the Lakers to the playoffs after suffering an injury that caused him to miss last year's postseason.  (David Armelino | The Oswegonian)
Sophomore Brian Sortino has his eyes set on leading the Lakers to the playoffs after suffering an injury that caused him to miss last year’s postseason. (David Armelino | The Oswegonian)

The Oswego State men’s basketball team will play host to the SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinals on Saturday, to reignite their SUNYAC conference rivalry.

The Lakers (14-7) take on the Cardinals (14-6) for the second time this season, with the Cardinals defeating Oswego State on their home court, on Jan. 16.

In that contest, a 70-66 victory for SUNY Plattsburgh, Cardinals’ senior Reggie Williams tallied 24 points and 14 rebounds, while Laker junior Alex Rawa scored nine points while grabbing 11 rebounds.

Despite possessing similar records, few expected the Lakers to contend with the Cardinals for first place in the SUNYAC, a spot Oswego State currently occupies.

The Lakers were entering the 2014-2015 season without their top scorer from the previous year, and on the heels of a SUNYAC semifinal loss to the College at Brockport Golden Eagles.

The Cardinals, on the other hand, were returning seven seniors from last season, a year in which they reached the national semifinals.

The Lakers have earned their status as top-ranked team in the SUNYAC with the help of returning sophomore Brian Sortino. Sortino, who suffered a season-ending injury last winter, has returned in full force. Leading the Lakers in scoring with an average of 15.2 points per game, Sortino has been the scorer the Lakers so desperately needed him to be. Sortino also leads the Lakers in assists and steals per game.

While the Lakers only have two scorers averaging more than 10 points per game (Sortino and sophomore Kyle Covley), the Cardinals boast four players averaging double digits.

Senior Reggie Williams leads the way for SUNY Plattsburgh, averaging 11.3 points per game, but not far behind is junior Edward Correa, averaging 10.5 points.

Unlike the Cardinals, the Lakers heavily rely on their younger class of players. Oswego State only possesses one senior on the roster, Rashawn Powell. Powell emerged as a force for Oswego State last season, being a threat in multiple facets of the game.

Powell is averaging just under 10 points per game this year, and averaging over eight rebounds as well. To go along with these impressive numbers, Powell will also soon eclipse his total of 32 steals from last season as well as his 17 blocks from last year.

Participating in his final season as a Laker, Powell would certainly like to end his Oswego State career with a SUNYAC Championship title.

Following their matchup with the Cardinals, the Lakers only have two remaining games on their regular season schedule. On Tuesday, Oswego State will match up with the SUNY Geneseo Knights on their home court before wrapping up the season with a home game against SUNY Cortland on Feb. 20.

For the Cardinals, three games remain after their contest with Oswego State. Before finishing the season with two home games against the College at Brockport and SUNY Geneseo on Feb. 21 and 22 of this month, respectively, the Cardinals will face the SUNY Potsdam Bears on the road on Tuesday.

Oswego State will have history on its side on Saturday, as the Lakers own an all-time record of 52-31 against the Cardinals, dating back to 1938.

As the season winds down, both teams will be looking to gain the edge this weekend when they meet at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Max Ziel Gymnasium.