The Cortland High boys’ basketball team outscored Homer Central 20-8 in the first quarter Friday night, expanded the lead to 42-11 at halftime and ultimately improved to 3-0 overall with a 58-31 victory in Shafer Gymnasium.
Dan Ruggiero, Jay T Atkins and Caleb Thompson led a balanced Purple Tiger attack with 10 points each, Ruggiero also with four steals and three assists and Atkins with four assists. Rory Hines scored nine points on a trio of 3-pointers, RickyG Young scored eight points, including a slam dunk off a forced turnover in the second quarter, and added nine rebounds, four steals and three deflections while Noah Barber had four assists.
Jarrett Wilbur scored eight points for Homer (0-3 overall), complemented by Nick Barnes and Malik Redding with six points each. No further statistics were available for the Trojans.
“The seniors (eight of the 10 players on the roster) knew it was their last opportunity against their cross-town rivals, who had beaten us three straight,” Cortland coach Jeremy Milligan said. “They wanted to go out and leave it all on the floor and make sure there were no regrets. They ended the game with no regrets.
“This was our first game this season where all 10 kids got some good court experience. The whole team came out fired up, and responded well. I haven’t seen a half like that by a Cortland team for a long time. We dominated the boards, 31-17; we did a good job of limiting them to one shot. We played man-to-man the whole game, and our helpside defense made it difficult for Homer for sure. We also had 17 assists; the kids seemed to get open downcourt.”
“We really struggled to find a defense that worked in the first half,” Homer coach Sean Malone said. “They got on us early and played with more energy than we did. We came out in the second half and showed some pride and won the second half, but it was too little, too late.”
The hosts took a 49-21 lead into the final eight minutes.
The Homer JVs edged Cortland, rallying from a 26-19 halftime deficit to win behind 10 points from Jon Barnes, nine from Jake Calabro and eight from Logan Peck. Owen Riley scored 10 points for Cortland (2-2).
Both CHS teams visit Central Square this Friday, the JV game tipping off at 5 p.m. Homer’s squads host Cazenovia Tuesday, starting with the 5 p.m. JV game.
The Purple Tigers’ annual Coaches vs. Cancer game raised a total of $530 for the local chapter of the American Cancer Society, according to Milligan, who noted that the night was inspired by a district employee who was recently diagnosed with the disease. Graph-Tex produced special T-shirts for both teams and the cheerleaders, and various local restaurants provided gift cards as prizes for the halftime 3-point shooting contest.