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February 5, 2013

 

Homer seniors savor victory

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

For the final time in their high school basketball careers, seniors Casey Cleary, Beau Riley and Alec Sovocool stepped onto the court at Homer High School.
Prior to warm-ups for the varsity contest, all three were introduced with their parents. The trio then joined the rest of the teammates and closed out the home season with a thrilling 54-49 non-league victory over visiting Onondaga.
The Trojans are 4-13 overall and will finish the season next Tuesday, Feb. 12, at Fulton with one more non-league contest.
“It was fun getting a win,” Riley said. “It has been a tough season, but it is fun going out on a positive note. I have enjoyed playing with all these guys. It’s been a good time.”
Riley became a starter during the season and his skills have steadily improved in this final winter season of his high school career.
“Coach (Sean Malone) is great in getting everyone into basketball mode,” Riley added. “We all still play lacrosse, but he knows how to whip us into basketball shape.”
Cleary has been a four-year varsity player. He became the all-time 3-point leader and now has 83 treys heading into his final game. The senior is also fourth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 665 points in 68 varsity contests after scoring 12 points in his home finale.
“It’s surprising that it’s coming to an end,” Cleary said of the end of his basketball career. “It seems like it’s always been going on for me. It’s going to be weird when it finally ends.
“This season has been a little tougher because my back has been pretty messed up most of the season,” he continued. “It has been feeling better lately. It’s been worth playing with the pain because it is basketball. It is nice to have a record and to be among the top scorers. It was never something I thought about when I started playing basketball. I wasn’t really even thinking about the records until people told me I was getting close.”
“The game was closer than we thought it would be,” Sovocool said. “A win is a win though.”
Onondaga led 7-3 after a low-scoring first quarter, but Homer pumped in 19 points in the second quarter and enjoyed a slim 22-19 halftime lead.
The Trojans started the second half with an 8-2 run and their advantage grew to 30-21. Cleary scored on a driving lay-up, Sovocool buried a short jumper, Cleary netted two free throws and Sovocool brought the house down in capping the run. He made a nice steal and capped the fastbreak with a two-handed dunk.
“It’s been a practice thing for a while,” Sovocool said of the crowd-pleasing jam. “I’ve been wanting to do it for a while. I got the opportunity and Senior Night was the night.”
Homer maintained the advantage through the rest of the quarter with bucket by Jayden Gavidia, two baskets from Riley and a Cleary steal and lay-up for a 38-30 cushion.
Onondaga tried to stay close in the fourth quarter as Jake Russell came alive in the paint. After scoring just two points in the first half, Russell scored 10 of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter.
Good thing for the host Trojans, they had their own counterattack as Gavidia scored eight of his team-high 18 points to go with baskets by Igor Sokolik, Cleary and Riley to hold a 52-41 lead with 3:03 left.
Onondaga made one last push with an 8-0 run to make things interesting. Russell scored twice to cut the deficit to 52-45 with 1:46 left. Andrew Koch (11 points) tossed in two free throws as the visitors trailed 52-47 with 30 seconds to go. After a Homer turnover, Koch scored on a lay-up off a Russell steal with 19 seconds left and it was a one possession game at 52-49.
Onondaga had a couple of fouls to give, but could not make a steal. With 14.1 seconds on the clock, Cleary was fouled and went to the line for a one-and-one. The senior made both free throws and the Trojans had the five-point victory.
Sovocool was the third Trojan in double figures with 11 points and five rebounds. Riley finished with six points and eight rebounds.
“We told the guys to enjoy the night,” Malone said of the pre-game locker room message. “I told the guys that they were probably playing their final competitive home basketball game. It is a different kind of feeling and the guys felt that. I was happy for them because it was Senior Night. It was nice for the seniors to get one last win at home.”
HOMER JVs closed out their home season with a solid 57-32 victory and improved to 10-7 overall.
Trojan coach Jeff Tabel subbed often and early which kept the game close for longer than score final score indicated. Homer led by nine points at halftime and after three quarters, but pumped in 19 points in the fourth quarter to pull away for good.
“It was a good team win,” Tabel said. “We played solid defense and got contributions from everyone.”
Jerrod Reiner bounced back from illness in the last game to lead the balance attack with 12 points. Ryan Wainwright added nine points with eight points from Drew Cottrell and seven points from Jake Hayes.
Brett Milligan paced Onondaga with 11 points. Seem Ashkar pitched in with 10 points.

 

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