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February 12, 2011

 

Happier ending for Purple Tigers

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

Senior Night certainly provided a bit of excitement for Homer Central fans, but it was visiting Cortland High boys who walked away happier when Friday night’s OHSL Freedom American Division basketball tussle was over.
While center Brandon Babcock was the only Purple Tiger in double figures with 12 points, the sixth-ranked Class A team in New York State got plenty of balanced scoring during a 65-40 triumph over their neighborhood rivals.
First place Cortland improves to 10-1 in division, 15-1 overall. Last place Homer falls to 0-12, 2-14 overall.
“It was the kind of game we expected,” Cortland coach Mick Lowie said after turning away a Trojan team that had rallied to within three points in the second quarter. “We knew Homer would come out and play with a lot of emotion. There were a lot of things going on because it was their Senior Night.
“I was pretty happy with our execution overall,” he continued. “The score didn’t reflect how well we really did execute our offense. We missed a number of shots, but we moved the ball very well. Our goal was to get the ball inside to Brandon Babcock. Justin Hogan is a tough guy to guard outside and we have a couple of shooters on the wings. We prefer to start the plays at the high post, but we found him open on the short corners so we went inside first. Brandon was drawing the double teams and was able to kick the ball back outside. ”
“Our guys did fight hard,” Homer coach Sean Malone said. “They were pumped for the game. It’s a tough task playing Cortland for your Senior Night, but we played well. We just did not score enough points.
“Cortland has a tough offense to contain,” he added. “They get so many looks down low. Babcock is tough there and then you get Hogan hovering on the perimeter. Suddenly, his elbows are above the rim and he’s flushing a putback. They are very athletic. Our best bet was to make some threes and play good defense.”
The scoring began slowly. Cortland had trouble finding its shooting touch before Babcock scored in the paint with 5:36 left in the first quarter. A minute later, Jonathan Prior stole the ball and fed Qwuhail Barlow for another two points.
Trojan senior Jeff Eves got Homer on the board with a short jumper with 4:34 left in the quarter.
AFTER THE TWO teams exchanged buckets, the Purple Tigers went on a 10-0 run to build a 16-4 advantage. Justin Hogan began the run with a lay-in as he scored four points all together in this spurt Prior, J.P. Reagan and Barlow also netting points. The quarter would find Cortland scoring five more points and Homer four as the Purple Tigers led 21-8.
With a big game looming today at Mexico, Lowie went to his bench quicker than usual to rest his starters. With a 13-point lead and trying to switch up his defensive scheme, Homer took advantage and opened the second quarter with a 10-0 run of its own.
Brent Quinlan scored on a short jumper while Gavin Stage, a former Cortland Highs student, came off the bench and connected twice from behind the 3-point arc. Eves finished the run with an offensive put back as the Trojans trailed 21-18 with 5:25 left in the first half.
“They did catch us as we were changing from our zone full-court press to a man-to-man,” Lowie said. “We haven’t done a lot of that so they kind of caught us in transition. They were able to bang down some shots. We were still executing, but we were also missing some shots.”
That’s as close as the home team would get. In fact, Cortland would not allow another Trojan point in the half. The Purple Tigers began an 18-point unanswered streak to go ahead 39-18.
It began with a Babcock offensive rebound and score. The junior then made a pair of free throws and Barlow made a steal, drove the length of the court to score the lay-up before the biggest crowd pleaser of the night.
Cortland’s Hogan soared high above the rim on the missed shot and used a two-handed rebound jam to give the Purple Tigers a double-digit lead at 29-18. Babcock scored twice more, Prior made one free throw, Barlow converted and offensive rebound and P.J. Mahar struck from 3-point range for the remaining points and the 21-point halftime advantage.
“Justin has had several (dunks) this season including a couple of two-hand jams against Fowler by driving down the lane,” said Lowie. “This was the first time he’s done one off a rebound. That was pretty nice.”
WITH THE STARTERS seeing limited second half action, Cortland still out-scored Homer by identical 13-11 counts in the third and fourth quarters to secure the victory. Sophomore guard Josh Gutchess scored seven of his eight points in the second half for the Purple Tigers, but it was a team effort with 10 different players scoring points over the final two periods.
Hogan finished the game with nine points and seven rebounds. Barlow joined Gutchess at the eight-point mark while Mahar netted seven points. Hogan and Gutchess each pulled down six boards.
As a team, the Purple Tigers shot well from 2-point range, hitting 28-of-50 shots. Where they did struggle was from behind the arc as they connected just once in 16 attempts. The stat that most impressed Lowie was just 10 turnovers while his team made 17 steals. Again, those were strung out among several different players.
Homer will close out its Freedom Division season Monday traveling to Fulton with JV action tipping off at 5:30 p.m.
CORTLAND JVs scored 22 second-quarter points to overcome an 8-4 deficit and rolled to a 48-31 triumph over Homer.
“Homer is much improved,” Cortland coach Yale Hughes said. “We were nervous in the first quarter, but we played much better once we settled down. We started playing our brand of basketball and took control.”
“Cortland does have a good program,” Homer coach Jeff Stark stated. “We didn’t get enough shot opportunities. Cortland is long and they forced a lot of turnovers when they stretched the floor and deflected passes. We had trouble with their pressure because of that, but our guys did keep battling.”
Cortland (11-5) led 26-14 at halftime and sealed the game with a 17-8 advantage in the third quarter.
Isaiah Prior led the Cortland offense with 12 points. Logan Lang added 10 points while Vadim Shevchuk chipped in with nine points.
Homer (5-12) was led by Payten Boice’s eight-point effort. Beau Riley netted six points while two other players each tallied four points.

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