By Will LeBlond
A year after Jordanny Cuevas Marte was named a seventh team All-State player for the Ithaca Boys Basketball team, he’s been working on his encore this winter.
The senior averaged 22 points per game last season for a Little Red team that went on a historic run all the way to the Class AA Section IV Championship Game before they fell to Corning. With a lot of talent back for the Little Red, including not just Cuevas Marte but classmates Max Milton and Zach Peacock, they’ve been driving their way to another postseason run.
“I’d say we’re a great team,” said Cuevas Marte. “I’d say we’re a little better than we were last year, guys are more disciplined. They know their role and nothing is cancerous on this team.”
With high expectations, Cuevas Marte has been pulling through this season for coach Brian Stone’s team. The apex of the senior’s season to this point came on Dec. 18 when the Little Red heated up from the field and ended up blowing out Corning 73-45. In that game, Cuevas Marte dropped 22 points on the Hawks, but that wasn’t the number that people were impressed with on that night.
During the game, he eclipsed the 1,000 career point mark for the Little Red, which permanently cemented his mark in program history. After he hit the 1,000 point plateau, he got plenty of embraces from his teammates, but he ultimately handed the game ball of to his mother Ysabel, who was a big part of the journey.
“My support system pushes me to the next level,” said Cuevas Marte. “When things weren’t going right, I was able to find ways to overcome that.”
His big night was part of a big week for the Little Red, who also knocked off Johnson City as they continue their run to try and repeat as STAC Champions.
It’s a different storyline for Ithaca this season after they won their first conference crown since 1972 last season. As they no longer wear the underdog tag anymore, the focus is now on repeating that process to get to the top once again.
“Just doing the little things,” said Cuevas Marte on the focus of the team this winter. “We need to keep a positive atmosphere.”
While Cuevas Marte averaged 22 points per game last season to lead the charge for that champion Ithaca team, he has been adjusting his game this year in hopes of it being the difference in a potential sectional championship run.
“I would say my role is to get my teammates involved,” said Cuevas Marte. “I’d say a lot of teams are keying in on me this year, so that allows me to distribute the ball and allow my teammates to score.”
With the postseason on the horizon now for the Little Red, they’re looking to get rolling once again, just like last year. After a 1-1 start in 2016-17, IHS cruised to the tune of a 20-game winning streak before they were ultimately stopped one-win shy of the state tournament.
Ithaca will be home on Jan. 8 against Elmira, then they will get a respite before they welcome in Maine-Endwell for a Jan. 17 contest at Ithaca’s Bliss Gymnasium.