Homer-Center received key contributions off the bench following three sluggish defensive quarters, and Jaden Evanick fired in a game-high 21 points, capped with the winning free throw, as the Wildcats rallied past visiting Portage, 48-47, in a non-conference boys’ basketball game Monday.
The Wildcats battled back to draw within two points, 21-19, at the break before falling into a seven-point, 37-30 deficit entering the final period.
Homer-Center responded by turning in its best offensive quarter in the fourth, given a spark created by pair of junior reserve guards, Drew Kochman and Travis Mock.
And though neither scored a point in the Wildcats’ rally, both were given heavy praise for their impact in the second half.
“They might not have shown up on the scoreboard, but they came off the bench and they were kind of the catalysts on defense,” Homer-Center assistant coach Paul Pohley said. “We went with a smaller lineup and increased the pressure. That gave us a jolt.
“We forced turnovers and turned the turnovers into points. That was the tuning point. And (senior forward) Cobe Daugherty had a pretty all-around floor game. He made some good decisions with the ball and opened up the court.”
Homer-Center mounted a 17-10 rally to draw even at 47-all. And with just 0.2 seconds remaining in the game, Evanick, a senior forward, drew a bonus penalty with a chance to seal the comeback. He drilled the first free throw, forging the final score, before intentionally missing the second to run out the clock.
“We told him to miss the second one on purpose,” Pohley said. “We didn’t want to give them a chance to draw a foul.”
Evanick finished with nine field goals and went 3-for-5 at the foul line. Senior guard Jon Gearhart added 15 points for the Wildcats.
For Portage, Preston Rainey and Kaden Claar scored 11 points apiece.
Homer-Center (7-4, 4-2 Heritage Conference) plays host to Penns Manor on Thursday.
PUNXSUTAWNEY 52, MARION CENTER 40: Marion Center let a close game slip away in the second quarter and never recovered in a non-conference loss at Punxsutawney.
The Chuck took a slim 15-13 first-quarter lead and increased the advantage to nine, 27-18, entering the break.
Colin Fox led eight Marion Center players in scoring with 15 points, including four 3-pointers.
No Punxsutawney players scored in double digits. Micah Kriebel and Ethan Presloid each had nine points, and Andrew Young and Nick Humble had eight points apiece.
Marion Center plays host to Ligonier Valley on Thursday.
HOMER-CENTER 65, BLAIRSVILLE 39: Marlee Kochman fired in a game-high 24 points, and Homer-Center outscored rival Blairsville in every quarter of a Heritage Conference game.
The Wildcats took an 18-13 lead in the opening quarter, doubled the advantage to 10 points, 32-22, at halftime and pulled away with an 18-11 advantage in the third period.
Macy Sardone tacked on 19 points for Homer-Center. Kennidy Page recorded 13 points and five steals, Molly Kosmack had nine rebounds and four blocked shots, and Kochman dished out five assists.
For Blairsville, Payton Potter had a team-high 14 points. Julia Potts added 10 points, and Lexi Risinger scored nine.
Homer-Center (7-3, 3-1) plays host to Ligonier Valley on Wednesday. Blairsville (3-5, 2-3) travels to West Shamokin on Friday.
WEST SHAMOKIN 53, MARION CENTER 38: Sophie Fusaro led West Shamokin on the boards and beyond the arc, grabbing 16 rebounds and firing in five 3-pointers while posting a game-high 18 points, and the Wolves held off host Marion Center in a Heritage Conference game.
West Shamokin jumped out to a 12-3 lead in the first quarter before extending its advantage to 15, 30-15, at the break.
Lexie Young added 11 points for the Wolves. Abby Oesterling had eight points, eight rebounds and five steals, and Lydia McIlwain scored eight points.
For Marion Center, Laney Monroe led the way with 13 points, and Kenadee Elkin added nine points.
Both teams play Wednesday. West Shamokin (6-4, 3-2) welcomes Brookville for a non-conference game, and Marion Center visits Northern Cambria.
UNITED 56, LIGONIER VALLEY 16: Madison Duplin led 11 United players in scoring with 10 points, and the Lions cruised to a road victory to remain unbeaten in Heritage Conference play.
Lauren Donelson added nine points for United, Maizee Fry had seven points and seven rebounds, and Brook Murlin had seven points.
For Ligonier Valley, Liz Crissman led with eight points, six rebounds and five blocked shots. Carol Woods had four steals.
United (11-1) is set for its toughest two-game stretch of the season. The Lions travel to face perennial Class 2A power Bellwood-Antis in a non-conference game Wednesday before playing host to undefeated and reigning Heritage Conference champion Penns Manor on Friday.
Ligonier Valley visits Homer-Center on Wednesday.
PURCHASE LINE 76, HARMONY 31: Bethany Smith led four Purchase Line players in double figures with 24 points, and the Red Dragons used a dominant first-half effort to claim a non-conference victory at home.
Purchase Line took a 17-7 lead in the opening quarter before outscoring the Owls 31-2 in the second period to claim a 48-9 halftime lead.
Madison Scalese added a season-high 18 points for the Red Dragons, and Smith grabbed 12 rebounds to post a double-double. Addaleia Beer scored 12 points, hauled in 10 boards and dished out five assists, Emileigh Syster tacked on 16 points, and Abigail Goss rounded out Purchase Line’s scored with six points and had 11 rebounds.
For Harmony, Traci Hauser scored 21 points on the strength of five 3-pointers.
Purchase Line (7-4, 3-2) plays host to defending Heritage Conference champion Penns Manor on Wednesday.
PENNS MANOR 70, NORTHERN CAMBRIA 5: Penns Manor extended its undefeated start to 12 games with a Heritage Conference victory at home.
Lauren Bagley led the defending conference champion with 20 points. Lauren Dumm had 18 points, eight rebounds and seven steals, and Megan Dumm had eight points, nine assists and eight rebounds. Anna Peterman, Bailey Orr and Kendra Thomas scored six points apiece.
Both teams play Wednesday. Penns Manor (12-0, 5-0) visits Purchase Line, and Northern Cambria welcomes Marion Center.
INDIANA 58, HIGHLANDS 24: Indiana rode a 23-0 first-quarter lead to a win over visiting Highlands in a WPIAL Class 4A Section 1 game for its fifth straight victory.
Eight players contributed to the score sheet for Indiana, led by a game-high 20 points from freshman Eve Fiala. Hope Cook added 11 points, Molly Kodman scored seven points, and Alexis Bonatch and Lizzy Lubold each had six.
The Indians, who led 32-6 at halftime, racked up 18 steals.
Indiana (8-4) improved to 3-2 in section play ahead of Thursday’s trip to Greensburg Salem.