January 20, 2010
Purple Tigers get tested
Last-place Homer hangs tough early against rival
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland High’s Justin Hogan (11) rises to the occasion on a fast break with Homer’s Casey Cleary in pursuit in the second quarter Tuesday. Visiting CHS was a 53-31 winner.
It may have come as a shock to the Cortland High boys, but not to head basketball coach Mick Lowie.
Going up against last-place rival Homer Central, his first-place Purple Tigers were clinging to a 13-10 lead in the opening minute of the second quarter before finally going on a 15-0 run over the next six minutes.
Cortland opened a 28-14 halftime lead before posting a 53-31 OHSL Freedom Division road victory over a determined Trojan squad.
“Our whole pre-game speech was that Homer was going to give us its best effort of the year,” Lowie said, whose team had already beaten the Trojans twice this season by 67-28 and 62-34 margins. “There was no doubt in my mind, but I’m not sure the kids believed it. They did after the first few minutes of the game.
“Homer had a great game plan in slowing the game down,” he continued. “It took away our running game. They out-scrapped us most of the night. They got a lot of loose balls and nearly out-rebounded us. They played inspired basketball.”
Cortland held and narrow 30-29 edge on the boards for the game, but Homer grabbed 13 offensive rebounds which helped control the clock.
“We did do a lot of good things tonight,” Homer coach Doug Pasquerella said. “We did take away a lot of their inside play defensively. We protected the basketball well because we rotated to the ball and we communicated. We were able to slow the game down.
“We got in trouble when we started to get a little lazy,” he added. “We then got into a little foul trouble.”
Aaron Darr gave Homer a 2-0 lead in the first 34 seconds. The biggest Trojan lead 6-3 came when Casey Cleary grabbed an offensive rebound, drove the lane and scored with 3:59 left in the period.
Brandon Babcock jump-started a 10-0 Cortland run with a nice bucket in the paint with 3:32 left in the quarter. A 3-pointer from the left win by Justin Hogan put the Purple Tigers in the lead for good a 8-6 and Babcock closed out the run with 14 seconds left in the quarter with a fast break layup.
Austin Recor gave the Trojans two more points before the end of the quarter, but Cortland enjoyed a 13-8 lead.
MAYBE IT WAS the after-effects of a physical two-day tournament in Oneida Saturday and Sunday, which forced Lowie to give his kids a day off Monday, but the inspired play by Homer was showing.
Cleary added another bucket with 7:11 left in the first half as the Trojans cut the Cortland advantage to 13-10, but the Trojans would not score again for six minutes.
P.J. Mahar’s cutting to the basket and converting a lay-up started the 15-0 Cortland run. Jordan Prior added two free throws before Tyler Bombard netted two charity tosses. The run ended with a 3-pointer by Caleb Wright with 1:28 left in the half as the Purple Tigers led 28-10.
Homer scored the final three points of the quarter. Brett Stokoe and Tyler Simonetta each made one-of-two free throws while Luke Pedersen made a pair of tosses from the charity stripe.
The Trojans opened the second half with Darr completing a nice feed from Kyle Davis with a lay-up, but Cortland responded. Jeff Brown’s offensive tip-in sparked an 8-0 run as the Purple Tigers pulled out to a 20-point cushion at 36-16 with 3:36 left in the third quarter. Homer never really threatened again.
Jordan Prior was the only Cortland player in double figures with 10 points. Brown added nine points while Mahar and Babcock each finished with eight points.
Recor topped the Trojan scoring list with eight points. Cleary added eight points and was part of two Homer guard pairings that worked well together. Cleary was paired with Andy Parker while Luke Pedersen and Jeff Eves comprised the other pair. Tyler Simonetta also worked into that guard rotation.
“We were more effective against their press and trap tonight because of our guards.’ Pasquerella said. “We passed the ball better and didn’t try to dribble through the pressure. Casey, Andy, Luke, Jeff and Tyler did a much better job of protecting the ball this time around,”
Cortland High will face a big test Friday in Shafer Gymnasium when Bishop Ludden visits, while Homer heads to Chittenango. Both games tipoff with JV contests at 5:30 p.m.
CORTLAND JVS picked up win in the prelim, defeating Homer 57-28. Cortland improves to 7-6 with the victory. Homer falls to 2-10.
“I’m happy to get a win against our rival,” Cortland coach Yale Hughes said. “I’m also disappointed in the number of turnovers we had. Homer really hustled and played good defense, which led to some of our problems. We certainly had a height advantage, but we didn’t really take advantage of that.”
Chad Timmons finished with nine points and Tyler West added seven points to the Cortland offense. Josh Gutchess paced the winners with 12 points.
“We are making strides and we are definitely improving,” Homer coach Chip Stewart said. “I thought we extended our defense much better tonight. Turnovers did hurt us and we missed some good shots.”
Stewart praised the play of Mike Hartnett, who led the Trojans with eight points. He also gave Connor L’Hommedieu high marks after his six-point effort.
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