It was a tale of two halves according to Cortland High boys’ basketball coach Jeremy Milligan.
That proved to be the difference as Homer overcame a 26-17 halftime deficit to post a 56-51 overtime victory over the Purple Tigers Monday in a non-league contest at Homer High School. It was the first varsity win for Homer coach Rex Ryan as both teams are now 1-2 overall.
“In the first half, we smoothly executed and made shots within our zone offense-getting the ball to the high post, the short corner and to players diving to the basket and scoring,” Milligan said. “I was very impressed with how well we executed our zone offense. Players were unselfish and moved the ball crisply against Homer’s 2-3 zone.
“Homer continued to play 2-3 in the second half, but picked up the intensity and starting trapping in the deep corners. After just six first half turnovers, we turned the ball over 13 times in the second half and OT to Homer’s 11 for the game.”
Ryan praised his team’s ability to regroup in the second half.
“We got off to a slow start, but really showed resilience and clawed our way back,” Ryan said. “There’s a number of plays made that won’t show up on the stat sheet but made all the difference in us winning the game.
“Our goal after being down nine at half was to win the first two minutes of the second half and we did just that. We wanted to utilize our size down low and it ended up working in the second half.”
Cortland took a 14-6 lead in the first quarter by holding Homer to 3 for 15 shooting from the field. The second quarter was more even, but the Purple Tigers had the edge and headed to the halftime locker room in front 26-17. Cortland went 11 for 31 from the field in the first half with Noah Armstrong leading the charge with 14 points.
That momentum changed in the second half. Homer junior Jarrett Wilbur, senior Derek Fickett and senior Mikyle
Franklin caught fire in the third quarter. Franklin netted eight points while Wilbur and Fickett each scored six points as the Trojans got 20 points. Cortland struggled with just 3 for 15 shooting in the quarter for nine points as the Trojans took the lead at 37-35.
The fourth quarter was a back and forth affair. Homer would lead 46-43 late, but Cortland sophomore Max Gambitta tied the game after getting open along the baseline and burying a 3-pointer to force overtime.
The Trojans settled down and scored first in the overtime and slowly pulled away. Wilbur netted six points in the extra session to aid the winning effort.
“Homer scored first in OT and played poised,” Milligan said. “We were sloppy with the ball turning over the first three offensive possessions in overtime. Homer continued to connect extending its lead and never looking back.”
After shooting 8 for 33 in the first half, Homer was 16 for 32 in the second half, 4 for 6 in overtime. Cortland shot just 8 for 32, 2 for 8 in OT, during the second half.
Wilbur finished with a game high 22 points for Homer. Fickett added 17 points and Franklin pitched in with 14 points.
“Homer’s offensive plan in the second half appeared to be to get the ball inside to Wilbur and Fickett, taking advantage of the size and strength of these forwards,” Milligan said. “They executed well. Wilbur showed some great post moves getting our defenders to leave their feet on some crafty up and under moves while Fickett seemed to finish all touches inside. Franklin did a nice job of penetrating to the hoops and finding teammates in the second half.”
Armstrong paced Cortland with 21 points. Colter Gohs added 10 points with nine points each from Gambitta and Tyler Blake.
“I can’t thank everyone in the Homer and Cortland area enough for the amazing atmosphere tonight,” Ryan said. “What an experience for the players, coaches and for those who attended.”
“The fans certainly got their money’s worth tonight,” Milligan said. “It was an exciting first W for Coach Ryan. I congratulate him and the Trojans for never giving up after getting down early. That’s the great thing about basketball, the game can change quickly.”
Cortland will get ready for its first home game of the season. The Purple Tigers will host PSLA at Fowler in SCAC Empire Division action Friday at 6:45 p.m.
Homer will regroup quickly as the Trojans host Hannibal tonight in OHSL Liberty Division action at 6:30 p.m.
In JV action, Homer improved to 2-1 this season with a 42-38 win over Cortland (0-3). The Purple Tigers built a 12-7 lead in the first quarter before Homer used a 16-9 burst in the third quarter for a 33-31 advantage, The fourth quarter remained close.
“Great team win, we were down early and didn’t give up,” Homer coach Jackson Dowdle said. “Our shots didn’t fall in the first half, but I told my guys to just keep shooting. We took care of the ball down the stretch, made timely shots, and did a great job rebounding the ball. I know how much this win means to our guys, they really wanted this one. It is always a good game against Cortland, they have a great program and the fans always show up and support both sides. This is a big win for us and we hope we can use this momentum against Hannibal.”
“It was a competitive basketball game,” Cortland coach Tom Murphy said. “Both teams played extremely hard. We had our chances to win, however it’s difficult to overcome all the self-inflicted wounds. Too many missed defensive assignments and 12 second half turnovers was the difference.”
Gaven Truman had a game high 14 points for Cortland. Emerson Johnson added six points.
Ian Gilbert led Homer with 13 points. Wyatt Wilbur pitched in with 11 points. Homer will host Hannibal today at 5 p.m. Cortland will host PSLA Fowler Saturday at noon.