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February 2, 2016

Trojans finally get to celebrate

CHSBob Ellis/staff photographer
Homer’s Jerrad Reiner, 23, drives past Johnny Phillips of Cortland High for a layup Monday at SUNY Cortland.

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

The date was Jan. 23, 2004. Cody Endress, Michael Hayes and Will Rumsey were seniors in the first Homer Central basketball season that Pat Dugan would out on the floor in his return to the head coaching duties.
The Trojans defeated Cortland High that night 45-44 in their recently demolished and soon to be refurbished high school gymnasium.
That was the last time Homer beat CHS boys, as the Purple Tigers were riding a 20-game unbeaten streak since then against their rivals... until Monday night as the Trojans prevailed 44-42 on the Corey Gymnasium court at SUNY Cortland they call home for this season.
Jerrad Reiner broke a 42-42 tie with 12.1 second remaining by hitting the first of two free throws. The senior missed the second, but the Trojans got the rebound and Jacob Rivers was fouled with 8.3 ticks remaining.
Rivers made the first foul shot and missed the second, but it gave Homer a two-point lead.
Cortland got the ball in the front-court and called time out with 3.2 seconds to go. The Purple Tigers got the ball in the lane to 6-foot-10 center Chris Luke and he was fouled immediately. Luke had scored 21 points to that point, including being 1-for-2 at the foul line.
Luke missed the first toss and Homer called timeout. Luke then missed the second shot, Rivers grabbed the rebound and Homer celebrated a huge upset win over their neighboring rival.
Homer not only won the OHSL Freedom National Division contest to improve to 4-6 in the division, but it gives the Trojans an 8-10 overall record which qualifies for sectional play. Cortland remains in first place in the division at 5-5 and falls to 8-10 overall.
“They were playing me tough on the defensive end,” said Rivers after being held to seven points, all seven coming on free throws. “It came down to making free throws and that’s what it was tonight.
“It’s always nice to beat Cortland,” he added. “Tonight was just little more special. The last game was close so we knew we just had to grit our teeth and we came out with the ‘W.’”
“WE KNEW IT wouldn’t be a game where someone would pull away,” Homer coach Sean Malone said. “We knew it was going to come right down to the end and the ball bounced our way. That was a huge rebound on Jerrad’s miss.We really played solid and I don’t really have anything to say.
“The guys just played tough,” he continued. “We didn’t play tough in any of our three games last week. It was good to see that tonight and the crowd, on both sides, brought up the energy level. It was just a grind-it-out type of game.”
In a very sluggish first half, Neither team did much of anything as Cortland took a 10-8 lead.
Luke scored the first seven Cortland points of the second quarter to give the Purple Tigers a 17-10 after James Denkenberger tied the score at 10-10. He capped the run with a dunk to bring the Cortland Crazies to their feet.
Homer responded with a 9-0 run of its own to take the lead. Bryant Quinlan made a nice move in the paint to start the run. Riley McEvoy hit a big 3-pointer and Reiner connected for three from the left elbow with 2:10 left in the half for the lead.
Will Pace buried a 3-pointer from the right corner with 46 seconds left in the half to give Cortland the 20-19 halftime advantage. Luke led all scorers with 11 points at the intermission.
There were four lead changes in the third quarter with Cortland closeing out the period with a 7-0 run and a 32-26 lead. Luke started the run inside with two. John Khazzaka knocked down a 3-pointer and Nick Craig drove the lane for the final two points with 49 seconds left in the quarter.
THE TROJANS DIDN’T fade away as they scored eight straight points to take a 34-32 lead. The run began with a Quinlan 3-pointer and the next five points all came from the foul line.
Reiner was 1-for-2 and Rivers went 4-for-4.
Luke tied the game at 34-34 and 36-36. Kyle Hess notched his only two points of the night in the paint as Homer led 38-36 with 3:11 to play. Craig connected from the top of the key for the final Cortland lead at 39-38 with 2:35 remaining. Homer came back down the floor and Reiner drove the baseline and put in a nice scoop shot for a 40-39 Trojan advantage with 2:09 showing.
Reiner made two free throws with 1:10 left to give Homer the 42-40 edge, but Luke countered with his 10th basket in 11 shooting attempts in the paint to tie the score at 42-42 with 49 seconds to go.
Reiner and Rivers made their clutch charity tosses as the Trojans went nine-for-13 at the foul line in the fourth quarter.
“It was about starting to score when the team needed me,” Reiner said of his 14-point effort, eight of those coming in the fourth quarter. “This is always a big rivalry game. It’s great to come out with a win.”
“THEY MADE SOME free throws down the stretch,” Milligan said. “In close ball games those certainly need to be made.
“We talked about Homer not having any answer for Chris inside,” he added. “We knew if we were patient we could find him inside. We needed to get the ball inside more to him. Chris had a terrific game.”
Homer will host Central Square in OHSL Freedom National Division action Thursday at SUNY Cortland’s Corey Gymnasium. The JVs tip-off is 6:30 p.m.
Cortland High will host Chittenango in OHSL Freedom National Division action Friday at Shafer Gymnasium. The varsity contest will follow the 5:30 p.m. JV game.
HOMER JVs improved to 14-3 with a 46-36 win over Cortland. The Trojans led 12-4 after one quarter and 23-8 by halftime and coasted to their eighth straight victory. Cortland fell to 5-12 with the loss.
“Once again a stingy defense played by our team gets us the win,” Homer coach Jeff Tabel said. “I mean we gave up eight points in a half and 16 through three quarters to a good team-that’s pretty good defense. Due to our ball-handling and passing, we had (have) a balanced scoring attack on offense so we are usually hard to shut down.
Grant Stokoe led the Trojans with nine points. Casey Hayes and Justin Wainwright netting eight points each.
Brian Ngo paced the Cortland offense with a game-high 12 points. John Blanchard helped out with 10 points for the Purple Tigers.

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