December 29, 2012
Purple Tigers’ sharpshooters humble Homer
There is no doubt that playing in the comfortable surroundings of Shafer Gymnasium is beneficial for Cortland High’s basketball boys.
After a dismal 0-for-18 shooting effort from the 3-point arc on rival Homer Central’s home floor back on Dec. 7 in a low-scoring 34-24 OHSL Freedom Division victory, the Purple Tigers hit 9-of-18 attempts from beyond the arc to make Friday night’s rematch less stressful.
That torrid touch enabled the unbeaten hosts to roll to a 58-30 win in the first round of the Tompkins Trust Company-Cortland Regional Sports Council Holiday Tournament hosted by the CHS Athletic Booster Club. It was also a Freedom Division contest as Cortland improves to 5-0 in division play and 7-0 overall, while Homer falls to 1-4 in league play and 2-5 overall.
Cortland will face Dryden High in the 7:30 p.m. championship game tonight back at Shafer Gym. Homer tips off against Marathon Central in the 5:45 p.m. consolation tilt. Dryden was a 61-60 winner over Marathon earlier in the evening in a league battle between the IAC North Division foes (see related story).
“I could not be more pleased with our guys tonight,” Cortland coach Jeremy Milligan said. “We played very unselfishly. We made the extra passes and the guys were much looser.
“The shots certainly fell,” he continued. “We have good penetration in finding guys inside, and the guys who can knock down shots on the outside did. I’ll take a 50 percent shooting night anytime.”
Homer led 9-7 with 3:12 left in the first quarter after a Beau Riley jumper, but Cortland closed out the quarter with a 10-1 run. Isaiah Prior hit his second 3-pointer in the quarter to put Cortland in front for good at 10-9. Brian Hughes added a deuce in the paint and Zack Whelan buried a trey from the left wing as the lead grew to 15-9 with 1:32 left in the quarter. Vadim Shevchuk added a short lay-in off a Sage Brown assist at the buzzer to conclude the quarter.
“We couldn’t make a shot and looked for all kinds of excuses in that game at Homer, but tonight we executed much better on our home court,” Prior said. “We had the same match-ups as the first game. Brian Hughes is a good defender and he did a great job on (Casey) Cleary.
“We just want to keep the tradition going,” he added of playing and winning the title game, something the Purple Tigers have been successfully doing since 2008.
Eamonn Mahar opened the second quarter with a 3-pointers, but it would be over four minutes before his second trey accounted for any more points, but the Purple Tiger lead was now 23-10.
Homer’s Cleary stopped the Cortland assault with a nice scoop lay-up, but that would be his only bucket of the game as Hughes was the primary defender who held the Trojans’ leading scorer to 1-for-8 shooting from the field and three total points.
“Casey Cleary is a very athletic kid and Brian Hughes did a nice job of shutting him down tonight,” Milligan said. “He was Brain’s main assignment, but Teddy Phillips and Sage Brown did take on the role and handled it well also.”
Hughes scored inside and Mahar hit his third 3-pointer before Homer coach Sean Malone called time-out with 2:02 left in the half and Cortland leading 28-12.
Alec Sovocool got Homer two points out of the time-out, but Cortland closed out the half with a 5-0 run and a 31-14 advantage. Sovocool and Riley led the Trojans with six points each.
The second half saw Cortland continue to dominate and posted the easy 28-point victory. The Purple Tigers shot 13-for-26 inside the arc and were 22-for-44 overall. Prior and Mahar led the balanced attack with nine points each. Whelan added eight points despite a tough shooting night though the junior did dish out five assists. Josh Gutchess led a the balanced rebounding effort with six boards while 5-foot-10 guard Phillips grabbed five caroms as the Tigers held a 30-27 edge for the evening.
“We came out with some pretty good energy in the first quarter,” Malone said. “We went cold shooting. We had some opportunities, but it really came down to not being able to match-up with Cortland defensively. The overall intensity was just not there tonight.”
CORTLAND JVs rallied from a 10-point deficit to post a 44-42 overtime victory over Homer in first round action. The Purple Tigers improve to 6-1 overall. The Trojans fall to 4-3 with the loss.
Nick Craig scored the tying basket at 41-41 as the buzzer sounded to end regulation time and he netted all three Cortland points in the overtime period to give the Tigers the victory. Craig finished with a game-high 14 points.
In the 20-point fourth quarter comeback, Jack Hearn came to life and scored all nine of his points while Andrew Babcock scored two big buckets in the quarter.
Homer was solid through the first three quarters, holding Cortland to 17 first-half points and just four points in the third quarter. The Trojans led trailed 12-11 after the first quarter, but took a 19-17 lead at halftime. Bradley Sovocool and Jerrod Reiner each scored five points in the third quarter as the Trojans’ 12-4 advantage led to a 31-21 lead through three quarters. Reiner and Drew Cottrell finished with nine points each to lead Homer.
“We played well as a team,” Homer coach Jeff Tabel said. “The guys could have folded when Fulton came back, but they did. We played good defense and the offense saw some more balanced scoring.”
Cortland will face Dryden in the JV championship game at 2:15. The Trojans will tangle with the Marathon at 12:30 p.m. for third place.
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