January 26, 2013
Rally by Fowler trips up Trojans
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Surrounded by Fowler players, Beau Riley (5) of Homer Central reaches for a rebound during Friday’s OHSL Freedom Division contest. Fowler prevailed, 64-54.
It’s not like Homer Central boys have not been in this position before during this basketball season.
There have been other frustrating occasions when the Trojans have teetered on the verge of victory only to be denied, which was the case in Friday’s latest OHSL Freedom Division opportunity.
With Fowler High in town, the Trojans took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter before the Falcons came up with 24 points over those final eight minutes to pull away for a 64-54 triumph.
In the opening seven minutes of that decisive final stanza, Fowler out-scored Homer 22-6. The lone points for the hosts during that stretch were 3-pointers swished by senior guard Casey Cleary — that tied the game for the final time at 46-46 with 5:56 left to play — and 6-foot-7 junior Rex Ryan.
“The hustle is there, I can’t knock that. We try hard, but the mental mistakes here and there, minutes at a time....” said coach Sean Malone after this Trojans dropped to 3-12 with just three games left in this season, Homer with a 1-10 mark in the Freedom Division.
“We make a good play on defense, then turn the ball over on offense. You can’t get momentum going when you do that,” he added. “There are patches where we look really good. We move the ball, we make a cut and we make a layup. The story of this year has been consistency, playing four quarters, 32 minutes. We can go on a 5-0 run, and then we’ll give up an 11- or 12-point run.”
Team scoring leader Cleary finished with 20 points to pace the Homer offense, which also got 11 points from sophomore Jayden Gavidia, 10 points from Ryan — all coming over the final 10 minutes of the game — and four assists from guard Beau Riley.
That didn’t keep the Trojans from suffering a seventh straight setback, a close 46-42 loss at Fowler in Syracuse back on Jan. 11 part of this stumbling stretch.
THREE FALCONS DID in the Trojans. Senior center Mario Fratto finished with 24 points, quick junior Luis Cirino came off the bench to provide a 21-point spark and junior forward William Reome ended up with 15 points.
What really hurt Homer was being out-rebounded 34-18, with 19 of Fowler’s total coming off the offensive backboards.“That’s just determination. That’s not coaching. That’s just a kid deciding he’s not going to lose,” said Fowler coach Greg Sweeney of his 4-8 team’s rebounding effort.
“We just didn’t do a good job rebounding,” noted Malone, Gavidia with five rebounds and Igor Sokolik four to lead the Trojans. “It’s got to be a team effort and five guys weren’t rebounding. That’s just an instinct guys have, going after the ball. We tend to stand and watch and think we can out-jump them, but that’s difficult to do.”
Homer trailed 7-1 early before scoring 10 straight points including a 3-point shot and three-point play by Cleary. The Trojans were up 11-9 when the quarter ended. Fowler seemed to be back in control when a second quarter 12-2 spurt provided a 25-19 lead, but a Cleary pull-up jumper and a corner 3-pointer by junior Bryan Cavellier in the final minute got the Trojans within 25-24 at the break.
The second half started with Homer going on an 8-2 run, with a Gavidia length of the court excursion to the rim providing a 32-27 lead. Homer’s biggest second half advantage was 42-36 when Ryan finished off a three-point play after being hacked while scoring down low with 1:23 left in the third quarter.
But Cirino flipped in a basket in the lane, Reome picked his way through traffic to score and Fowler was back within 42-40, with Homer grabbing that three-point lead to lug into the fourth quarter when Ryan made one of two free throws with two ticks still on the clock.
THE FOURTH QUARTER was all Fowler, breaking things open from that 46-46 deadlock with 11 unanswered points including one possession where the Falcons got off four shots before Fratto scored working the offensive boards — though a missed free throw kept him from a three-point play.
Though Ryan ended that Fowler spurt lofting a 3-pointer from long range, Homer never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.
“A little more intensity,” was a key to the late Fowler success in Coach Sweeney’s mind.
“We lost out last game just by throwing the ball around and I think we just decided we couldn’t do that again,” he said, Fowler fresh from a disappointing loss to Fulton. “We tightened the defense. We switched from a 2-3 (zone) into a 3-2, and it gave them a little trouble moving back and forth from it. Just a little bit of confusion gave us a couple of opportunities. We got our hands on some deflections and it changed the game for us.”
After losing a non-leaguer on Wednesday to a Whitney Point team that made 11 shots from 3-point range, Homer held Fowler without a trey. But the Falcons got to the free throw line 26 times, Fratto making 8-of-9 and Reome 7-of-8 to help humble Homer.
“Last year we were losing to teams by 30 or 35 points a game. This year, we’ve been in every game,” said Malone of the Homer progress. “We just have that three or four minute stretch where we don’t do anything right. We forget the fundamentals, how to rebound, block out.
“We’re there,” he added, “We just can’t take that extra step and get over the hurdle.”
HOMER JVs secured win No. 9 in the season, topping Fowler 61-46 behind a 29-point performance by freshman Jerrad Reiner. The Trojans (9-6) grabbed a 20-12 first quarter lead and then put the game away with a 20-point fourth quarter.
“We played great defense for the most part, as we were able to control their penetration, which killed us the last time we played,” said coach Jeff Tabel, Homer having lost 53-43 at Fowler. “There were times when our defense collapsed, however the kids responded well and stepped up when we really needed them to.”
While Reiner carried the bulk of the scoring load including making four 3-pointers, Jake Hayes added nine points and Bradley Sovocool seven in the win.
Both Homer squads are off for a week before visiting Jamesville-DeWitt this coming Friday.
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe