Led by the 1-2 punch of Caley Cornwell and Brenna Johnson, plus some solid team defense, the Homer Central girls’ varsity basketball team made it look easy Wednesday night in the final game of its three-game homestand.
Cornwell had a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds while Johnson netted 16 points on eight-for-12 shooting from the field as the Trojans rolled to a 63-35 OHSL Liberty Division win over visiting Cazenovia. Homer improves to 3-4 in Liberty American Division action and 4-6 overall. Cazenovia falls to 2-4 in the Liberty National Division and 4-7 overall.
The offensive output was important, but shutting down the Lakers’ top scorers, Lindsey Lawson and Katie Ammann, was an equally crucial part of the win. Lawson and Ammann each scored just eight points, as did Hannah Matteson, for Cazenovia.
“Shutting down 34 (Lawson) was key,” Homer coach Jeff Tabel said. “I don’t know how many points she had, but we contained her. We kept her from doing whatever she wanted to do. She was tired and had to work for everything. It was a team effort on her. We also controlled the rebounds by boxing out. We pushed the ball up the court well.”
“We knew we had a couple of players to stop because the rest of team feeds off them,” Cornwell added on the defensive work against Lawson and Ammann. “It was really team defense. We wanted to come out strong. We had to play as a team.”
Johnson was a spark as her layup at the end of the first quarter gave Homer a 13-9 lead and she scored the first four Trojan points in the second quarter to keep the hosts on top 17-13. After Lawson got two points in the paint to close the gap to 17-15, Homer went on a 12-0 run to close out the first half.
“We needed momentum going in the second quarter because we struggle coming out of halftime,” Johnson said. “We decided we needed to open it up to get that momentum and carry it over into the second half.”
“With Brenna being aggressive offensively, we can score points,” Tabel said. “When she is passive, the team becomes passive. It’s the same with Caley; they feed off each other and it gets the rest of the team going.”
Johnson started the run with a drive to the basket. Cornwell followed with a 3-pointer, Katlyn Sovocool got a layup and Cornwell scored on a drive to the basket. Shawnessy Earle closed out the run with a 3-pointer. Earle had 13 points and eight rebounds for the night.
There were no struggles to start the third quarter as Homer took control. Matteson scored on an offensive putback to start the quarter, but Earle answered with a trey to spark a 10-0 Trojan run that ballooned the Homer advantage to 39-17. The Trojans coasted from there.
For Johnson, it been a season where she has grown offensively and continues her defensive excellence.
“It’s becasue of my coaches, parents and teammates believing in me that I can keep driving, even if the shots aren’t going in,” she said. “That’s what I need to be doing. I am tall enough now that I can do that (drive to the basket), so I might as well execute. Defense is what I’ve thrived on since I was a kid. I love it. I like to accentuate my speed when I can and keep getting wide open layups.”
Cornwell’s pursuit of the all-time scoring record will come next week. With the rescheduling of the Jan. 5 Christian Brothers Academy game because of weather, the senior was not able to break the mark on her home court. Cornwell has 793 career points after the game and trails Colette Dafoe (804 points) by just 11.
As a team, Homer will look to get hot down the stretch and make a push for sectional play.
“These are teams we should be competing with and beating if we want to make sectionals,” Tabel. said. “These middle teams like Solvay and Cazenovia are games we need and we have a bunch of teams like this the rest of the regular season.”
“We have people stepping up,” Johnson added. “We’re ready to keep winning and make it to sectionals.”
Homer will begin a three-game road trip Monday at Bishop Ludden before trips later in the week to Marcellus and Christian Brothers Academy. Monday’s JV game will tip-off at 6 p.m., with the varsity contest to follow.
The Homer JVs struggled offensively for the second straight contest in a 48-19 setback at the hands of Cazenovia that extended their losing streak to three games.
Homer (6-4 overall) hung close it the first quarter, trailing 8-5, but that all changed in the second quarter as Cazenovia went on a 15-2 tear and led 23-7 by halftime. The Lakers continued to control play in the second half.
“With 36 turnovers and about 15 percent shooting, we couldn’t get anything going offensively,” Homer coach Cris Colasurdo said. “Taylor Netti, Sophia Sahm and Aleta Gross continue working hard and are trying to do what is asked of them.”
Netti led the Trojans with four points. Sahm pulled down nine rebounds.
Molly Brown paced Cazenovia with 11 points and Josie Avery chipped in with 10.