February 01, 2008


Trojans score emotional win


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Homer’s Rachel Perry (5) tries to block a spike in the second game but it deflected for a point for Mexico. 

Staff Writer

It was an emotional final night for Homer Central seniors Shannan Keefe and Jessica Brown. The Trojan duo donned their home volleyball jerseys for their final OHSL Freedom Division match Thursday as Mexico came to town to close out the regular season. With the help of their teammates, Keefe and Brown walked off the floor winners after a hard-fought 17-25, 25-23, 25-20, 25-22 Senior Night triumph to close out the division season at 10-6 with a 10-8 overall mark heading into sectional play. Mexico slips to 9-7, 11-7 overall.
“It is nice to have just the two of us, because we got a lot of attention,” Brown chuckled. “I have played with these teammates for two years, some of them three years. They are all like sisters to me. It makes it very special because we are so close.
“We have had trouble playing Mexico,” Brown added. “It was nice to be able to win after losing the first game. The other girls wanted to win for me and Jess. This team has worked so hard this season and it was nice to know that they all wanted to we for the seniors.”
With all the pressure of that final home match, including her singing The Star-Spangled Banner before the varsity match, how did Keefe keep in all in focus?
“It was really tough,” said Brown. “All I did was concentrate on the National Anthem. When that was done, it was time to try to focus on the match. I could not let the emotions get to me.
“That all changed after the match,” Brown continued. “That was when people started to see me cry, because I am so close to the hitters like Katie Wick, who I have played with for three years, and Rachel Perry, who I have with two years. That is when I realized that I would not be here next year.”
Every game followed a similar pattern of staying close until the very end. Game one was deadlocked at 15-15 as Mexico rallied from an 11-15 deficit. The Tigers trailed 13-15 before Rachel Grant (six kills, three aces) began serving. With the help of two aces, Mexico led 20-15 by the time Homer got the serve back trailing 16-20. The visitors closed out the game with a 5-1 advantage. A kill by Caitlin Santore (15 kills) closed out the game.
Game two saw Homer trailing 14-16 before Brown got the serve back for the home. The senior put the ball in play and her teammates did the rest. Katie Wick (15 digs, 14 kills) drove home a winner to even the score at 16-16. A save (dig) by Keefe, a block by the duo of Keefe and Wick, plus a service ace helped the Trojans take a 19-16 lead.
Mexico fought back and tied the game at 23-23 on a Santore kill, but Wick answered with a kill of her own and Keefe blocked another drive to give Homer the 25-23 win.
Game three was even at 19-19 after Wick served up an ace and her second ace during her service time allowed the Trojans to enjoy a 22-19 advantage. The home team kept the advantage to close out the game 25-21.
To no surprise, the fourth game was another nailbiter. Mexico broke an 11-11 tie with Rebecca Clark at the service line. Between Clark and Abi Goldberg (13 kills), Mexico built a 16-20 lead.
Keefe (four digs, three kills, two point-blocks) was serving as Homer trailed 17-20, but her only ace of the match evened the score at 20-20. McKenna Riley (23 assists, six digs) served up the tying point at 22-22 and stayed there until the match was over. Two Tiger miscues moved the score to 24-22. Riley delivered an ace for the final point of the night and the Trojans completed the season sweep of the Tigers.
 “I don’t gauge our team’s performance on who we beat,” said Homer coach Brian Fox. “I believe more in player development. If the girls are developing at the pace I believe they should be, that’s enough for me. If you develop the players, the wins will come. I want my players to be ready to play at the college level, if they chose that. I did not care about padding my win-loss record. That is my focus.
“It is hard for the seniors,” Fox added. “There are a lot of emotions there. Both Shannan and Jessica did a good job of getting focused. All the pressure was there for everyone on the team because no one wants to lose on Senior Night.”
Rachel Perry had six kills, five digs and four point-blocks for the Trojans with Katie Camp (10 digs) and Alexis Johnson (three kills) aiding the winning effort. Brown had two digs, two kills and two aces in her final home match while Keefe had four digs, three kills and two point blocks.
Courtney Ross had 17 assists for Mexico while Chelsea Giovo adding 18 assits, four blocks and four kills.
Homer Central will now await word on whether they have a home match or hit the road for Section 3 Tournament action.
IN JV ACTION, Homer dropped a tough 17-25, 25-19, 18-25 decision to host Mexico Thursday. The Trojans JVs are now 7-11 on the season.
Nichole Sanford led the Trojans with nine assists, three kills and two aces. Karley Brown contributed five kills and four ace to the Homer effort. Skylar Diamond chipped in the three kills and Victoria Lewis added two kills.




Purple Tigers overcome obstacles, clinch title

PHOENIX — The Cortland High girls’ basketball team wrapped up the championship of the OHSL Freedom American Division Thursday night, but it didn’t come easy.
The Purple Tigers scored the last four points of the game, three of those by senior forward-center Amanda Lawlor, to remain perfect after 11 league games and 17 contests overall with a 43-39 victory over Phoenix Thursday night.
Ceremonies honoring Phoenix coach Steve Storie and his wife as cancer survivors, and the unveiling of pink uniforms the Firebirds wore to represent Coaches vs. Cancer, were in addition to Senior Night festivities.
“There were a lot of distractions going on, which didn’t help us, plus Phoenix is a tough place to play anyway,” CHS coach Dick Penoyer said. “We were without Alena Turturro (staring junior forward), who was sick, and we got into foul trouble in the game. Amanda sat out most of the second quarter, (senior guard) Shannon Finucane was in foul trouble and (senior forward) Fawn Lolar fouled out with five minutes left.
“Our reserves have been playing a lot lately, which helped us tonight. They kept us in it. We also had our worst shooting night of the season (0-for-16 on 3-pointers, 16-for-65, 25 percent, overall). Our defense, which has been a hallmark for us all season, carried us; Emily VanGorder (junior guard) came off the bench and did a great job there.
Despite the title-clinching win, Penoyer noted that “The girls felt that there wasn’t anything to celebrate. They weren’t pleased with how they played. But I told them afterwards that with everything that went against them to still come through with the win tells you something about this team.”
The game was close throughout, and as noted was tied 39-39 after the hosts’ Julie Tupper drained a 3-pointer with 1:56 left. After the teams exchanged fruitless possessions, Lawlor scored inside to make it 41-39 Purple Tigers with 54 seconds left. She was then fouled and made one of two free throws with 35 seconds left, and Courtney Tennant hit a free throw with 15 seconds left for the final margin.
“Courtney had her best game of the year for us,” Penoyer said, the sophomore center scoring 10 points and hauling down 11 rebounds. Lawlor had 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Finucane had eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Tupper led all scorers with 17 points and Jenna Rossi added 10 for the Firebirds, now 7-6 in the league and 11-8 overall.




Red Lions in sweep

CINCINNATUS — The Cincinnatus girls’ volleyball team got ready for the Class D sectionals Thursday evening in the best way possible, a 25-18, 25-22, 25-23 sweep of visiting Living Word Academy.
“It was a battle for every point,” said Red Lions coach Macy Cobb, whose team is now 13-2 heading into Monday’s sectional seeding meeting. “The first game was 14-14 until we broke it open with six straight points from Hannah Smith. The second was back-and-forth, and was 23-23 before a side-out and an ace by Deanna Frink won it. Deanna put us ahead 18-13 in the third game, which had been tied at 10-10, with strong serves and gave us the push we needed to finish the match.”
Frink and JaLynne Smith had five kills apiece for the winners, while Dusty Fisk had 13 digs, two aces and four kills, Kortni Wright three aces, 11 assists, 10 digs and two kills and Jolene Eaton two aces, three kills, five digs and a block.
“The girls played as a unit and didn’t give up much in any one game,’ Cobb said. “They were really up for this match. They knew it was really important going into sectionals, and that there was a chance that our game with Stockbridge (which had been scheduled for tonight) would be wiped out, so a win was a must.”
Cincy is slated to meet Stockbridge Valley Tuesday if the Red Lions get a first-round sectional bye. A win in that match would give Cobb’s squad a share of the central Counties League championship with DeRuyter.