December 8, 2012
Inside job saves CHS
Rallies for low-scoring 34-24 victory at Homer
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Homer’s Alec Sovocool (22) and Jayden Gavidia (25) team up to strip Cortland’s Zach Whelan (11) in the second quarter of Friday’s Freedom Division game in Homer.
It was turn back the clock night at Homer High School Friday as the Trojans played host to neighboring Cortland High.
Through three quarters of shooting struggles, Homer was leading the lowest scoring basketball game between the two rivals in many, many a year by a 21-19 count.
Cortland finally began to control the offensive boards, and senior Brian Hughes discovered his shooting touch by scoring 13 of the Purple Tigers’ final 21 points, as the visitors pulled out a 34-24 OHSL Freedom American Division victory.
CHS improves to 3-0 overall, 1-0 in division play, for first year head coach Jeremy Milligan. Homer dips to 1-2, 0-1 in the Freedom Division.
“Coach (Milligan) told us that they were not boxing out very well and trying to push the ball out, so the coaches told us to get inside and use our height advantage,” Hughes said of Cortland’s late success. “We started getting offensive rebounds and some easy baskets.
“Our game might be jacking up threes, but not in this gym,” he added. “We never shoot that well in Homer. Isaiah (Prior) started getting the ball inside and the shots began to fall easier.”
Homer shot 6-for-24 from the field (25 percent) in the first half while Cortland was a mere 4-for-30 (13 percent). The result was a 15-11 Trojan lead. The halftime talks by both coaches were interesting.
“It was really like a football game,” Hughes chuckled. “It was real physical and we had never been in a game like this with Homer. It was something new for us and for coach. I’m glad we did respond in the second half like we did. Using our height to rebound and score inside was what we needed to do.”
“I just told the boys to keep their composure in the second half,” Coach Milligan said. “I felt that some of our shots in the second half would start to fall. The emphasis was to get the ball inside more.
“I thought some of the shots might start falling from the outside, but we were 0-for-18 from the 3-point line,” he continued. “So that part proved not to be true. The thing was seniors Josh Gutchess, Brian Hughes and Isaiah Prior stepped up offensively. That helped us take care of business in the second half.”
HOMER HELD ITS biggest lead of the night, by seven points at 18-11, after Alec Sovocool made one-of-two free throws with 4:26 left in the third quarter.
One minute later, Cortland began cutting the deficit for good. Gutchess hit a jumper, Hughes made two free throws and he then added another deuce off a nice lean-in shot to make the score 18-17 with 2:33 to play.
The big turning point came in the second half when Cortland switched up its defense.
“I think the when we went to the half-court press we picked up the intensity,” Milligan said. “We started to get more steals. We were able to capitalize on some of them. Working the offensive boards helped as well. We did have a few more offensive weapons that helped out.”
The Trojans stopped the CHS run as Sovocool used a nice inside move to get two points while drawing the foul. He added the free throw with 1:45 left in the quarter for a 21-17 advantage. Homer went into an eight-minute scoring drought after that and Cortland took advantage.
A driving lay-up by Zach Whelan pulled Cortland to within 21-19 as the third quarter ended. Hughes scored back-to-back buckets off offensive rebounds to start the fourth quarter, the second off a steal by Prior and his score came while being fouled. Hughes added the free throw and Cortland had its first lead of the game at 24-21 with 5:43 left to play in the game.
Prior assisted on the next three Purple Tigers baskets. Hughes scored twice and Theodore Phillips once as the lead grew to 30-21 with 1:51 to go.
Jayden Gavidia capped a solid night for himself with a free thrown and then a driving lay-up with 46 seconds on the clock to pull Homer to within 30-24, but that would be as close as Homer would get. Sophomore Gavidia would net nine points, grab 10 rebounds and make four steals.
“WE KNEW THAT the lower the score, the better it would be in our favor,” Homer coach Sean Malone said. “We worked on contesting shots around the perimeter. We were controlling the boards.
“We knew Cortland was going to make a run, all good teams to that,” he continued. “We tried to weather the storm, but they got some extra looks because of some offensive rebounds in the second half, that changed the momentum. The guys did play very well. I though we did do well overall.”
Hughes finsihed the night with a game-high 15 points and six rebounds. Whelan added six points and seven rebounds. Phillips grabbed a team-high eight boards.
Sovocool pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds for the Trojans. Casey Cleary added eight boards and was held to just five points.
Cortland finished the night shooting 13-for- 58 (22 percent) from the field. Homer shot 9-for-52 (17 percent).
The game can be a learning experience for both team.
“Winning a close game like this is something we could use to our advantage down the road,” Hughes said. “You never know who is coming for you. We have had a target on our backs the past few years because we have been reaching the sectional finals. Everyone is going to give us their best so we have to be ready.”
“Not only scoring points inside, but we made some free throws down the stretch,” Milligan said. “Homer had to commit some fouls and we made the free throws.”
Homer will return to action Tuesday hosting Jamesville-DeWitt in Freedom Division competition. JV play tips off at 5 p.m. Cortland’s next game is Wednesday, hosting Mexico with a 5:30 JV tip.
CORTLAND JVs beat Homer 59-50 in the openining contest, as Jack Hearn scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the first half for the unbeaten Purple Tigers (3-0).
CHS jumped out to a 10-0 lead and held a 15-5 advantage after one quarter. Homer (2-1) cut the deficit to 28-23 by halftime and closed to within one point early in the third quarter until the Tigers switched to a half-court trap defense and ran off 16 straight points to pull away.
Brett Copes added 13 points to the Cortland attack with Justin Prentice netting 10 points. Jake Hayes led Homer with a 16-point effort, 15 coming in the second half. Drew Cottrell chipped in with 10 points.
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