Other than two early first-quarter ties, the McGraw boys’ varsity basketball team played catch-up against Homer Monday night.
The visiting Eagles led for a total of 22 seconds, but those were the most important. Chase Curtis took a pass on the baseline with 1.9 seconds left, absorbed some contact and sank the short jumper with three Homer players on him to give McGraw a 48-47 nonleague victory. The Eagles improved to 5-1 on the season and sit at 13th in the latest New York State Class D poll. The Trojans fall to 1-5 overall with their third straight game decided by two points or less.
Homer still had a chance to win, but Mikyle Franklin’s half-court shot hit off the front of the rim as the final horn sounded.
Curtis hit a jumper in the paint with 1:30 remaining in the game for a 46-45 McGraw advantage. Mikyle Franklin connected for the Trojans 20 seconds later for a 47-46 Homer lead. The Trojans missed a lay-up for a three-point advantage inside a minute to go and one with 19 seconds remaining.
“I just said take it one play at a time,” Curtis said after his 19-point, nine-rebound effort. “I had to do what I had to do on the court. I just wanted to push the team. We take it one game at a time. Work as a team and we got another W. I think we are working really well together. We can still do better together, but right now we’re doing really good.”
“Homer gave us a great battle tonight,” McGraw coach Derek Allen said. “We showed some resilience. We had some guys not play the first quarter because they missed practice Saturday so we struggled in the first quarter with some subs who usually get as much time. Our guys really came back in the second and third quarters.
“We couldn’t contain (Malik) Redding, he hit a lot of 3-pointers, but we weathered the storm,.Chase made a great play at the end to get to the hoop where he could score. Evan Ignatowski also some some big buckets driving to the hoop. Good to come out of here with a win. Homer played extremely hard. Sean (Malone) is doing a great job there and the guys are really well coached. It simply came down to who had the ball last.”
“We felt a little more comfortable matching up with them at the end,” Malone said. “We did a better job by not sitting back in our zone. We got in their face a little more and forced them into little turnaround and baseline jumpers. Credit Curtis for hitting the shot. We forced them to miss a shot with 30 seconds left and missed a layup that would have given us a three point lead. We are just running out of gas at the end. We just don’t have the bodies we’ve had in the past, especially had the guard position. We are just very deep there.We’ve been in the last three games and did win one.”
With the game tied at 4-4, Homer closed out the first quarter with a 9-2 run for a 13-6 advantage. Jarrett Wilbur hit a jumper from the foul line and Nick Barnes converting a fast-break lay-up off a pass from Malik. Redding. Wilbur added an offensive putback and Redding drained a 3-pointer from the left elbow for the seven-point cushion. The Trojans maintained that edge through the second quarter to lead 25-20 at the half. It was still a 36-31 lead for Homer after three quarters before McGraw made a little defensive change and began fighting back.
“We finally locked down on defense in the fourth quarter,” Allen said. “We started communicating better. We started hedging on the pick-and-roll a lot better. They got a number of baskets on the pick-and-and-roll high. The shooter would come off the pick and get a good shot. We stepped out and stop that better in the fourth quarter. We gained some possessions from that and they also missed some shots which allowed us to get the rebound.”
“We controlled the boards and that was a big part of the game. We got a lot of second chance opportunities, which of course means we missed a lot of shots, but we hit the boards hard. Brendan May gave us a spark and he usually isn’t a starter. He played well on defense. That Redding kid is tough to stop. He shoots from everywhere.”
“We are not a good rebounding team right now, but we hung tough,” Malone said. “We executed our last play. Mikyle had a running 3-pointer at mid-court that was very close to going down.”
“We are getting a little better each game. We weren’t as aggressive tonight as we have been. Give McGraw because they did shut some things down, like the pick-and-roll. We expected them to play that 1-3-1 zone, but they knew we had been making a lot of threes. Derek made a good decision of going man-to-man on us.”
Franklin scored a a scoop shot with 3:11 to go as Homer led 45-40. Ignatowski made jumper and added two free throws with 2:31 to play as McGraw closed to within 45-44. That set up the final heroics by Curtis.
Ignatowski added 13 points to the McGraw attack. May had five points and 11 rebounds while Chris Pickert hauled down eight rebounds. Franklin finished with 19 points for the Trojans. Redding added 15 points, including four 3-pointers.
Homer will return to OHSL Liberty Division action Thursday by hosting Marcellus, with JV action getting things started at 5 p.m.
McGraw will resume Central Counties League play Thursday by hosting Otselic Valley. The JV game starts at 5:30 p.m.
The Homer JVs broke a 14- 14 second quarter tie with a 15-0 run triggered by three straight 3-pointers from Carter Newcomb for a 29-14 cushion before cruising to a 64-44 win over McGraw.
Newcomb had 15 points for the Trojans, who improve to 3-3 overall. Jake Calabro chipped in with 13 points.
Zach Lamarre paced a balanced McGraw (4-2) offense with eight points. Quintin Burdick and Nick Potter each netted seven points with three more Eagles each having six points.