---- — CORTLAND — Kalik Parker kept the Plattsburgh State men’s basketball team in the game in the first half Friday night.
And his teammates took over in the second half.
The second-seeded Cardinals (19-7) advanced to the SUNY Athletic Conference Tournament championship game with a 77-67 victory over third-seeded Geneseo.
Plattsburgh will play host and top-seeded Cortland, a 65-54 winner over Oswego, in today’s 4 p.m. title contest.
“It was a total team effort,” Plattsburgh coach Tom Curle said. “I’m really proud of this team — they earned the right to be in the championship game.
“That gives us 19 wins and that’s pretty good.”
The Cardinals held a 30-28 lead at the half thanks to Parker, who scored 17 points off 6-for-6 shooting from the field and 5-for-5 shooting from 3-point range.
“No question, Parker kept us in the game in the first half,” Curle said. “It was the first experience like this for some of the guys. They were playing hard, but not with a lot of composure.
“I told the guys at the half just to relax and let the game come to them. We’re certainly good enough a team.”
The opening 20 minutes was close throughout, with neither team able to go on a run.
The Cardinals regained the upper hand in the second half, leading by as many as nine points, before the Knights rallied back into a 50-all tie.
“After they tied it, we really settled in and scored the next 11 points in a row,” Curle said.
“We played really well, especially in the second half. We ran our stuff, hit the open man and were able to get some open layups.”
Parker finished the evening with a game-high 20 points. Jordan Moody also hit in double figures with 14 and Shamoy McIntosh added 11.
Reggie Williams contributed eight points and a team-high 10 rebounds, while Chris Manning dished out seven assists. Ezra Hodgson chipped in with seven rebounds and Shavar Fields added five.
“Reggie Williams did a phenomenal job on the board,” Curle said. “We got outrebounded by only one and that’s better than we’ve been doing.
“Shavar Fields also came in and rebounded well. Mike Mitchell gave us nine unbelievable minutes and hit two big free throws near the end of the game. Parker, Fields and Mitchell were key off the bench.”
The Cardinals hit 50 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from 3-point range and 73.3 percent from the line. Geneseo, meanwhile, shot 39.7 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from beyond the arc, and 57.1 percent from the charity stripe.
Gordon Lyons paced the Knights (17-10) with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Connor Fedge added 15 points and Thomas Decker, 12.
Next up are the Red Dragons, who split two regular season games with the Cardinals. Plattsburgh dropped a 68-55 decision on December 1 in Cortland and then recorded a thrilling 80-77 victory during the final weekend of the regular season at Memorial Hall.
“Cortland is not easy to score on and they will score,” Curle said. “We’re not going to shut them down completely. We’re going to have to play very well offensively and hit some threes.
“Jordan (Moody) and Shamoy (McIntosh) will also need to get to the rim.”
Plattsburgh 77, Geneseo 67
Decker 4-0-12, Jones 1-0-2, Lyons 7-5-19, Fedge 6-2-15, Riefenhauser 1-1-3, Drescher 3-0-9, McKenna 3-0-7, Hoy 0-0-0, Curry 0-0-0. Totals: 25-8-67.
Manning 1-0-3, McIntosh 5-0-11, Williams 4-0-8, Moody 4-6-14, Hodgson 4-0-8, Mitchell 1-2-4, Tibbs 0-0-0, Fields 3-1-7, Parker 7-1-20, Correa 0-2-2, Sergiej 0-0-0. Totals: 29-11-77.
Halftime: Plattsburgh, 30-28.
3-point goals: Geneseo (9): Decker 4; Drescher 3; Fedge; McKenna. Plattsburgh (8): Parker 6; Manning; McIntosh.