It was an exciting way to open the 2019-20 basketball season for the Homer Central girls, but it did not have the happy ending.
The Trojans led a majority of their non-league home contest, but fell 55-54 to Section 4 powerhouse New eld in the final 30 seconds Friday. It was Newfield’s opener as well.
Homer got off to a rough start as seven turnovers limited the Trojans’ offense as Newfield took an 11-7 lead in the first quarter. Homer used an 11-2 run early in the second quarter to turn a 12-9 deficit into a 20-12 advantage. “Against a team like Newfield, you can’t start that way because that keeps them in the game and gives them opportunities to score,” Homer coach C.J. Kudla said. “I wanted teams like this. I wanted teams like Newfield, Newark Valley, Watkins Glen. They are strong teams from Section 4 because we deserve to play against the better teams. We could have gotten buried by a team like that, but we didn’t.”
“We got off to a decent start, but then we didn’t see a lead again until we took it back with about a minute and a half to go,” Newfield coach Brandon Steinorth said. “There are no points for pretty and it was not pretty tonight, but we are happy to leave here with a ‘W’ and five sectional points.”
A steal and lay-up by Jerze Joseph off the bench got Homer to within 12-11 early in the second quarter. She followed with an offensive putback and a 3-pointer from the left wing to put the Trojans in front 14-12 with 5:11 left in the first half. Gracie Patriarco drove the lane for a bucket, Katie Sovocool scored a deuce and Patriarco recorded a steal and lay-up that put Homer on top 20-12 with 3:21 to go in the first half. Homer would take a 22-18 advantage into the locker room.
The aggressive, swarming defense of Homer caused problems for Newfield offensively, but there would be mini-runs for the visiting Trojans. Newfield closed to within 27-26 on a fast-break layup by Katie Moravec, but Homer countered with a fast-break layup by Patriarco and back-to-back steal-layups from Katie Sovocool and Patriarco to push the lead back to 33-26 with 2:21 left in the third quarter. Newfield did close to within 36-33 by the end of the quarter.
The teams traded points in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. The 3-pointer by Joseph and two points in the paint by Sarah Sovocool gave Homer a 45-38 advantage with 5:35 left in the game. From this point on, Newfield used its experience to pick away at the Trojans’ lead and crawled back into the contest.
“Our experience helped out,” Steinorth said. “A lot of these kids started with the program in eighth grade and are now mostly juniors. We understand the difference between urgency and panic. Down seven points with four minutes left, it’s easy to panic, but we understand urgency and we just found another gear at that point. We got to the rim better late in the game. We settled too often for jump shots early on. We made a point to get to the rim in the second half.”’
Katie Vartanian/contributing photographer
Homer’s Gracie Patriarco (10) goes up for two of her team-high 18 points in the first half of Friday’s game. Kelly Moravec (00) watches the play for Newfield.
Katie Moravec began and ended a 7-2 run with steals and layups as Newfield closed to within 47-45 with 2:47 to play. Patriarco drove the lane for two points for Homer to push the advantage back to 49-45, but Jenna Goodwin stole the ball and got two points with 2:06 remaining as Newfield trailed 49-47. With 1:41 left, Katie Moravec buried a 3-pointer from the wing and Newfield had its first lead since the early in the second quarter at 50-49. Katie Moravec followed with a driving lay-up for a 52-49 lead with 1:23 to go, but Annika Roos got an offensive putback for Homer with 1:04 left as Homer was down 52-51.
Katie Moravec fouled out with 53 seconds remaining. Katie Sovocool made one of two free throws for Homer to tie the game at 52-52.
Kelly Moravec put Newfield by on top for good with a drive down the lane for two points. Newfield led 54-52 with 33 seconds left. Homer missed an opportunity and Maura Wood-Ellis got the ball back for Newfield. She was fouled and made one free throw for a 55-52 ad- vantage with 14 seconds left.
Sarah Sovocool put an offensive rebound back in the basket with five seconds to go and Homer trailed 55- 54. Homer forced a turnover with five seconds remaining, but two last second chances never resulted in a shot as Newfield held on for the one point victory.
“We just have to clean some things up like better angles on passes, going to the pass when it’s coming to you,” Kudla said. “It’s just little things. I still think we are a very good team. Newfield is a state ranked team that was 19-2 last year and reached the Section 4 semifinals. They only lost one girl who wasn’t their best player. I am very proud of the way our girls played.”
Katie Moravec finished with a game-high 20 points for Newfield. Kelly Moravec added 13 points and Wood- Ellis had nine points.
Patriarco led three Homer players in double figures with 18 points. Katie Sovocool netted 13 points and Joseph provided 10 points for the Trojans.
“The kids tried hard,” Kudla said. “There weren’t any negative attitudes. We have some very good basketball players on our team. We have better chemistry this year. They put a lot of work in during the off-season. They know each others’ strengths. Jerze came in and had a phenomenal game. She got hurt towards the end so she had to come out. Her 3-point ability really opens things up for other people. Turnovers just killed us today.”
“We try to get a couple of non-leaguers before we start the regular (IAC) season,” Steinorth said. “It kinda ruins the girls’ and their families’ holiday a little bit playing the day after Thanksgiving, but we were happy to come here. We know Homer is a real scrappy, athletic team. They are well coached.”
Homer will return to action Wednesday. The Trojans will open the OHSL Liberty American Division season with a trip to Jordan-Elbridge. JV action tips off at 5 p.m. with the varsity game to follow.