January 20, 2022

Homer girls eke out title

Trojans edge LaFayette 38-36 to win Beal hoops tourney

Paul Cifonelli/sports editor

Homer’s Catherine Apker dribbles the ball while looking for someone to pass to Saturday at Homer High School. Apker was named MVP of the Jessica M. Beal Memorial Basketball Tournament.

For the second day in a row, the Homer girls basketball team narrowly escaped with a win at the Jessica M. Beal Memorial Basketball Tournament.

Homer senior Sarah Sovocool got an off-balance runner to fall with 20.4 seconds left Saturday night to help the Trojans escape with a 38-36 win over LaFayette and the tournament championship.

Sovocool finished the game with 10 points and 11 rebounds, but it was her four points inside the final minute of the game that were the most important.

“It felt pretty great and I knew that things needed to be done, so I just put in all the effort that I had and tried to get it done and worked as hard as I could,” Sovocool said.

The game was tied at 34 with a minute to go in regulation. LaFayette’s Ciana Papineau, who finished with 22 of her team’s 36 points, made a basket with 43.5 seconds left. Sovocool answered with a layup with 34.8 seconds to go after taking the ball the length of the court and weaving through the Lancers’ defense. LaFayette then got a five-second violation on an inbound pass to set up Sovocool’s game-winner.

Catherine Apker helped the Trojans get out to an early lead with six of her team’s 10 first-quarter points. She was a steady force all game and ended with a team-high 21 points en route to being named Tournament MVP.

“It’s quite an honor (being named Tournament MVP),” Apker said. “Playing on the court with such amazing girls is amazing, let alone being the MVP.”

Both Sovocool and Apker took turns guarding Papineau, who handled the ball nearly the entire game for LaFayette. The two Homer guards noted how difficult it was defending Papineau.

“It was honestly really exhausting because I was face guarding in yesterday’s game too,” Sovocool said. “After doing that two days in a row, I’m tired. She’s an amazing player, so that made everything extra hard.”

Paul Cifonelli/sports editor

Homer’s Sarah Sovocool watches the offense unfold as she handles the ball Saturday at Homer High School. Homer won 38-36.

“Especially after yesterday’s game, it was quite a workout,” Apker said. “But at the end of the day you have to perform for your team and leave it all out there. We’ve got time to rest tomorrow (Sunday), so leave it all out there.”

The Trojans and Lancers played a back-and-forth game for most of the 32 minutes. Homer’s 12-5 lead at the beginning of the second quarter was the largest of the contest.

Homer shot just 22.7% (15-for-66) from the field and 33.3% (5-for-15) from the free throw line Saturday. Homer head coach CJ Kudla is proud of his team for competing and winning a tough game when they didn’t play their best.

“I think it speaks to how mature we are that we can beat a team when we just don’t shoot the ball very well,” Kudla said. “Shots weren’t going in and we had to dig deep and play good defense. It was tough and it was an ugly win, but ugly wins are what build good teams.”

Apker and Sovocool both had double-doubles, with Apker grabbing 11 boards to go with her 21 points. Apker also had five steals and Sovocool had four steals and six assists. Kayla Miller added in six points, 10 rebounds and four steals, while Kiera Miller scored one point. Fiona Hartnett didn’t score, but had five rebounds and six steals.

Homer’s next game is at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at Westhill.


Cortland got out to a 28-12 halftime lead thanks to balanced scoring from Margaret Starr, Mallory Turner, Valerosa Gambitta and Kendall Mack. Starr had eight first-half points, while Turner and Gambitta both had seven and Mack added five.

Turner finished with a game high 14 points to go along with five rebounds and three steals. Mack added in 12 points, six boards and three steals of her own.

Starr had 10 points and six rebounds and Gambitta notched nine points and three steals while holding Watertown’s center scoreless. Kirsten Merritt (6), Ryleigh Larkin (6) and Danielle Benjamin (3) also scored for the Purple Tigers.


Cortland got 19 fourth-quarter points from six different players to pull away from Watertown. It was a close game throughout, with the Purple Tigers taking a 27-23 lead into the halftime break.

Emerson Johnson led Cortland with 17 points, while also adding five rebounds. Max Gambitta had 11 points and five steals and Tyler Blake contributed seven points, 11 boards and six blocks. Marvin Bell had nine points and nine rebounds and Ben McGrath also pitched in seven boards. Caden Albright (7), McGrath (4) and Gaven Truman (1) rounded out the Purple Tigers’ scoring.


Nicole Morrow and Walaa al Shoffe won the high and triple jump, respectively, Saturday at SUNY Cortland. Morrow jumped 4 feet, 10 inches in the high jump and al Shoffe had a 31-foot, 5.5-inch jump in the triple jump.

Kristina Busby also participated in the triple jump, coming in third with a 29-foot, 1-inch leap. She also came in second in the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 10.69 seconds. Carlea Davis’ leap of 14 feet, 2.75 inches was good for fourth in the long jump, while her time of 8.18 seconds got her second in the 55-meter dash. Raelan Gray also jumped 13 feet, 1 inch in the long jump for sixth place.

The 4X200-meter relay team of Davis, Sam Brown, al Shoffe and Busby finished second with a time of 2:11.28.

Madison Thompson won the 100-meter run (3:59.10), Campbell Bush came in first in the 55-meter hurdles (10.52), Lillian Call topped the field in the 1,500-meter run (5:20.8), Ella Quick won the 300-meter dash (46.85) and Celeste Perkins won the long jump (14 feet, 8 inches).

The Cortland 1,600-meter and 4X200-meter relay teams both won. Alexandria Gier, Courtney Purves, Bush and Olivia Magin finished the 1,600-meter relay in 5:20.55. The 4X200-meter team was Danika Peck, Ella Ligas, Mackenna Bulger and Maude Terwilliger and finished the race in 2:06.20.

Ruby Mullally won the race walk, while Emma Gates came in second.

Abigail Trabucco won the pole vault after clearing the 6-foot, 6-inch bar. She also won the 600-meter run with a time of 2:03.70.


Bryant DePaull won the high jump (6 feet, 2 inches), long jump (19 feet, 5.25 inches) and 55-meter hurdles (8.92). Aidan Kalousdian came in first in the 55-meter dash (6.76) and 300-meter race (38.96) and Michael Cavanaugh won the shot put (35 feet, 2 inches).

Nathan Turner came in third in the 300-meter race. Chris West’s 17-foot, 4-inch jump got him fourth in the long jump and he also ran the 55-meter dash in 7.23 seconds, good for fifth. Lucas Morrow came in fifth in the 1,000-meter race (3:07.50) and Michael Cubero placed sixth in the shot put (30 feet).

The sprint medley relay team of West, Turner, Kalousdian and Morrow came in second, finishing in 4:15.50.

Ethan Wakula won the 3,200-meter run (10:11.70) and Brady Pennock topped the field in the 1,000-meter run (2:54.60).