February 8, 2014
Brown a big handful for Homer boys
Mention Homer Central and the spotlight quickly turns onto Sage Brown.
The Cortland High junior netted 22 points and was a force to be reckoned with in the paint at both ends of the floor during the Purple Tigers’ 78-53 OHSL Freedom National Division win on the Trojans’ home court Friday.
It was a marked improvement over the Purple Tigers’ narrow 53-50 win over their rivals at Shafer Gymnasium back in December.
Cortland improves to 8-4 in division play and 12-5 overall heading into Tuesday’s 7 p.m. season finale at Chittenango. Homer falls to 3-9, 6-11 overall with a Tuesday showdown with visiting Jamesville-DeWitt at 6:30 p.m. remaining.
“It is a good win,” Brown said. “We just didn’t play very well in our first meeting. We did get started a little slow tonight, but it didn’t take long to get going. They had trouble stopping us defensively.
“I just like having the ball in my hands,” he added. “Whether it’s Homer or someone else, I just trying to get the ball and go to the basket.”
“I am very proud of the team,” Cortland coach Jeremy Milligan said. “Sage did have a great game. He is the catalyst for our team and our transition game. Our transition game is where we are the most dangerous. There aren’t too many defenders in our league who can stick with Sage.
“It’s been great having Eamonn (Mahar) back from injury,” he continued, Mahar the CHS point guard. “We are almost a complete family again. Daquan Pittman was home with the flu and one other player was ineligible and not able to play tonight. Eamonn understands the game and has a great basketball IQ. He only had five points, but he had three assists and a couple of steals. He adds an extra component we didn’t have back in December.”
CORTLAND TOOK A 10-2 lead in the first two minutes of the game, but Homer would hang around, closing to within 10-8 on a bucket by Nick Holcomb. Three straight baskets, including one offensive putback, by Brown quickly pushed the Purple Tigers lead back to 16-8. The Cortland advantage stood at 21-10 after the first quarter.
Homer got no closer than seven points, that coming two minutes into the second quarter as an Igor Sokolik dunk and bucket by Jayden Gavidia got the Trojans to within 21-14. Two Brown free throws sparked a 16-8 run by the Purple Tigers to lead 37-22 at halftime. Brown scored six points during that run and came up with a steal leading to a lay-in by Mahar, to go along with a 3-pointer by Teddy Phillips and an inside power shot by Phil Carrigan.
“Sage has gotten a lot better as the season has gone along,” Homer coach Sean Malone said of Cortland’s Brown. “He has gotten comfortable with his position and he really is a good rebounder.”
Cortland would pull away in the second half with help coming from a variety of players, but none of impressive than Qadir Artis who score 10 of his 13 points in a 1:14 span early in the fourth quarter. The senior hit two jumpers, drove the lane for another deuce, made a steal and jump shot before closing out his mini-run with an offensive putback.
“QADIR HAS STARTED for us and come off the bench for us this year,” Milligan said. “He is coming off the bench now, but we are confident in him, knowing he can score quickly on the offensive side and give us a lot in a short period of time.
“Still give Homer a lot of credit,”he concluded. “They did compete every possession and they deserve a lot of credit for battling right to the end.”
Phillips was the third Cortland player in double figures with 11 points as the Purple Tigers shot 32-for-60 from the field, including a 23-39 effort inside the arc.
Gavidia and Rex Ryan each netted 14 points for Homer who also shot quite well. The Trojans were 18-for-37 inside the arc and 20-for-46 overall.
“We really shot well, over 50 percent, in the first half,” Malone said. “We also turned the ball over a number of times and Cortland seemed to score on every one of those mistakes. You can’t make mistakes against good team because they will make you pay.
“We will look to stay positive the rest of the season,” he added. “We’ll try to come up with a game plan where we can compete in our final game.”
CORTLAND JVs didn’t win pretty, but the Purple Tigers did send coach Yale Hughes out as a winner after a sloppy 73-60 win over Homer Friday. Hughes did confirm he was coaching his final basketball game, though he will be sticking around for golf and baseball at CHS.
“It’s been 20 years with basketball and coaching three sports,” Hughes said. “It’s just the right time to start cutting back a little.”
The big difference in this game was six foot-10 inch sophomore center Chris Luke who scored 16 points over the smaller Homer defenders inside.
“He was the difference,” Hughes said. “The plan was to get the ball inside. He had nearly a foot on every Homer defender. Coach (Jeff) Tabel did make a defensive adjustment to stop that. We did get sloppy and turn the ball over some and that kept the game close until the end.
“We did play better the first time against Homer, but they really have improved a lot,” he added. “Coach Tabel has done a great job. They are really playing much better and they don’t have their top scorer who’s been out.”
Cortland led 23-20 after one quarter, but a 24-15 edge in the second quarter pushed the lead to 47-35 at halftime. Homer tried to comeback in the second half, but the gap never narrowed overall.
Kersean Perry and Bronson Gagliano aided the Cortland win with 18 and 13 points respectively.
Riley McEvoy had a solid night for Homer with 17 points. Kyle Hess and Matt Guerrera pitched in with 16 and 11 points respectively.
“We have a different mentality now and the teamwork is now different,” Tabel said. “We our passing the ball more and running our plays. We have been handling the ball better and boxing out better.
“Riley McEvoy really stepped up tonight.”
As for Hughes’ stepping down, Tabel offered thoughts on a guy he has coached against in multiple sports.
“I love Yale Hughes,” he said. “I respect everything he’s done with them. We coached baseball wait back when. He knows the game real well. They will fill the hole that he leaves, but the next person won’t be ‘Chunky’ (an old Hughes’ nickname). It won’t be the same, but congrats on all he’s done well.”
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