January 24, 2014
Trojans shake off early woes
Crowd sparks Homer’s 64-62 win over Fulton
There was early trouble for the hosts in Thursday night’s OHSL Freedom Division basketball game at Homer High School.
The Trojans found themselves in a quick 9-0 hole to create those woes agaisnt visiting Fulton.
After two timeouts and a 16-4 deficit, something changed to provide a spark the Trojans desperately needed. The growing student section got behind the Blue & White and the team responded.
Throw in a mix of offense featuring a game-high 22 points from Igor Sokolik off the bench and Homer Central rallied for a 64-62 victory over the Red Rainders, improving to 2-7 in league play and 5-7 overall. It’s the first time the team has recorded five wins since the 2008-09 team during Doug Pasquerella’s first season as coach.
“We started off a little sluggish,” Homer coach Sean Malone said. “We just came off a tough stretch of games with Jamesville-DeWitt, Bishop Ludden and CBA. We are a good solid team, but those teams are a bit above us yet. I thought we did rebound well tonight. The guys didn’t pack it in and call it a season.
“We have three games coming up that are very winnable,” he continued. “It was nice to have three guys put up big numbers in the scoring column tonight. We did lock in better on defense as well. The guys did play tough.”
FACING THAT 16-4 deficit with 2:04 left in the first quarter, Homer closed out the quarter with a 7-0 run. Jayden Gavidia netted five of those points, three on foul shots. Plus Sokolik came off the bench and scored on an offensive rebound for the first of his 22 points.
The second quarter saw each team with mini scoring spurts. Sokolik powered inside for nine points in the second quarter and Gavidia added eight of the Trojans 19 points in the quarter. Despite 15 turnovers, the crowd was into the Homer comeback and gave the team a momentum boost even though Fulton (3-4, 4-8 overall) still led 32-30 at the break.
The third quarter was the turning point. Sokolik netted seven points as Homer began the second half with a 9-0 run to take a 39-32 lead. Fulton would make some runs to cut the lead down to two or three points, but Homer would get a key bucket and rode the vocal student section encouragement to stay on top.
“We always talk about getting a good start in the third quarter,” Malone said. “We did that and were able to get a nice lead. We started doing the little things like getting on the floor for loose balls. We were doing those little intangible things and it paid off. It really became a team effort.”
Twice Fulton got to within one point. Sokolik scored on a great inside move to give Homer a 43-40 lead with two minutes to go in the third quarter and Drew Cottrell collected his only two points off a pass from Gavidia for a 45-42 Trojan advantage.
GAVIDIA GAVE HOMER a 47-42 lead with six seconds left in the third quarter, but pesky Cody Green buried a 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer to pull the Red Raiders to within 47-45. Green would net 20 points to lead the Fulton attack.
Gavidia got Homer started in the fourth quarter with a driving lay-up for two while he was fouled. The added free throw gave the Trojans a 50-45 lead. Green hit his final of four treys to pull Fulton to within two points.
The Trojan were up 52-50 when Rex Ryan stepped up to score six straight points. An offensive putback, two free throws and a short jumper by the 6-foot-8 senior gave the Trojans a 58-50 lead with 2:26 to go. Fulton tried coming back, but Ryan stayed cool and hit four free throws to keep the home team on top 62-56 with 44 seconds to play.
Brian Hudson scored a bucket and Josh Hudson (10 points) added two foul shots as the Red Raiders closed the gap to 62-60 with 27 second remaining. Brad Sovocool was fouled and made one of two free throws with 25 seconds left to give Homer a 63-60 lead, but Brian Hudson drove the lane and scored with eight seconds left as Fulton now trailed 63-62. Gavidia was fouled with six ticks on the clock and made one of his two foul shots for the 64-62 advantage.
Fulton got one last shot, but Dallas Bradley’s jumper bounced off the rim at the final buzzer and the Trojans had their victory.
“WE WEATHERED THE storm,” Malone said in reference to the late Fulton push. “We started using pump fakes on passes. We started using the clock and we attacked the basket. It led to some key baskets and free throws.”
Gavidia finished with 21 points and Ryan netted 16 for the Homer.
“The guys were going around school today and getting in their friends ear about not having a lot of support at home games,” Malone said. “It was great to see and hear the turnout from the students. We get harassed everywhere we go, it was nice to our fans harassing the visiting team. It really was great see the fans come out and support us. We haven’t had that much in the last two years and it really did help us.”
“Coach Malone has done a great job building this program up,” Ryan said. “We really do have some good talent on this team and we should win games. Our guards really settled down during the game and we started getting passes inside and getting some easy buckets.”
HOMER JVs dropped a 61-53 contest to Fulton to open the evening, but the Trojans did gain some confidence.
“I told the guys they can score points without Jacob in the line-up,” Homer coach Jeff Tabel said of the absence of leading scorer Jacob Rivers because of injury. “We did get the ball to (James) Denkenberger and he scored well. We did pass the ball a little better and those good passes lead to baskets.”
Fulton led 13-12 after one quarter and 28-22 by halftime. The Red Raiders just did what was needed to hold off the Trojans, which included making free throws down the stretch.
Denkenberger finished with 14 points for Homer. Garrett Lewis added 12 points and Ryan Wainwright scored nine points.
Nick Burreschia led Fulton with 12 points and Dylan DeLong netted 10 points, including a 6-for-7 effort at the free throw line.
Homer will return to OHSL Freedom Division action Jan. 31. The Trojans will travel to Chittenango with JV action tipping off at 5 p.m.
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