A total of six Homer Central senior boys’ basketball players were honored before Thursday night’s OHSL Freedom Division game with Oswego at SUNY Cortland’s Corey Gymnasium.
For Riley McEvoy, the senior shined with a career-high 27 points as he helped the Trojans rally for a 55-46 victory.
Homer improves to 8-3 in Freedom National Division play and 13-5 overall. The Buccaneers fall to 2-9 in Freedom American, 4-10 overall.
“It was a big win,” McEvoy said. “It was good to get all the seniors playing time because they all work hard in practice.”
Trojan coach Sean Malone stuck with his tradition of starting his seniors on this special night as Jake Riley, Max Riley and Matt Guerrera joined regular starters McEvoy and Jacob Rivers for the opening tip. Alex Recor was part of the first rotation of subs off the bench before the first quarter was over to give all the seniors playing time early.
Unfortunately, the Trojans had trouble putting the ball in the basket and they got some good looks.
Oswego opened the game on a 9-0 run on three 3-pointers. Marion Poston hit two of the treys with Trey Clark also scoring from beyond the arc. Clark added a another three from the top of the key and and driving bucket to the rim as the lead grew to 13-3. The Buccaneers enjoyed a 15-7 advantage at the end of the quarter.
Tucker O’Donnell got the Trojans going in the second quarter as he was fouled driving the lane. He made the initial shot and the free throw to pull Homer to within 15-10, but Oswego answered with a 6-0 run to build a 21-10 cushion.
The Trojans made a 9-0 run of its own to pull to within 21-19 with three minutes left in the half. Kyle Hess scored in the paint. Bryant Quinlan added a lay-up before McEvoy made a steal and went the length of the court for a lay-up.
McEvoy drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key to get the Trojans to within two points. Oswego pushed its lead back to nine points before McEvoy hit a 3-pointer with five seconds left in the half as Homer went to the locker room trailing 28-22.
“We did start slow in the first quarter,” McEvoy said. “We just did not hit any shots.We kept moving the ball. we kept taking shots and we didn’t get down. The ball started to fall.”
“I like to jump the pass,” McEvoy added about his ability to make steals and turned them into fast-break lay-ups. “They weren’t paying attention to me on defense so I was able to get the steals. I got a couple in the first half and some more in the second half got some easy lay-ups.”
The Trojans started the second half quickly with a deuce and trey by McEvoy plus a lay-in by Quinlan to take their at 29-28 two minutes into the third quarter. Oswego responded with two foul shots and a trey from Carson Smith to retake a 33-29 lead. The Buccaneers increased the lead to 38-31 with a minute to go in the quarter before a key offensive putback by Kyle Hess. He was fouled on the play as he scored and made the free throw as Homer trailed 38-34 to end the quarter.
Momentum was with the Trojans, O’Donnell hits a 3-pointer to start the final quarter. A steal and lay-up while being fouled by McEvoy turned into a conventional three-point play as the Trojans took a 40-38 lead and never trailed again.
McEvoy made three more free throws after a foul on a 3-point attempt and he recorded another steal and lay-up to complete an 11-0 Homer run. McEvoy had eight of those points as the Trojans led 45-38.
Oswego closed the gap to 47-44 before O’Donnell buried another 3-pointer with 1:51 remaining. The Trojans made their free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
“We want to go far in sectionals,” McEvoy said after scoring 17 points in the second half. “The more wins we get, the better the seeding will be. We want to get a home game for sectionals and go from there.”
Hess and O’Donnell finished with nine points each, Hess also with some key rebounds.
“I don’t know about rebounds Kyle had,” Malone said. “ He didn’t have many, but those ones he got were big rebounds. I told him we were keeping him into those final two and a half minutes. He knocked down some foul shots and came up big just like Tucker with those two 3-pointers.
“Riley had a great offensive game, but he also had his best defensive game,” he continued. “He had active hands, was picking passes and getting deflections.”
Smith paced Oswego with 14 points and Clark added 13.