The Homer basketball season is underway with the Mariners JV team traveling to Anchorage to take part in the Lumen Christi Classic. The Mariners were able to win all three games on their way to being crowned tournament champions.
After defeating the Wasilla Warrior C team the previous night, the Mariners were set to face the West Anchorage Eagles JV squad. In spite of the quickness given up by Homer, they made up for it in talent, tying the game up by halftime.
“Out of halftime we tried to get into a running game with them which was our downfall,” said Head Coach Mark Casseri. The speed of the Eagles resulted in a 9-0 run to begin the third quarter. The Mariners then turned things around midway through the quarter by playing better help defense and moving the ball more effectively on the offensive end.
The neck and neck game came down to a tie with just 6 seconds to go.
Sophomore Brandon Beachy was at the free-throw line after being fouled, looking to make it a one possession game. After making the first, he missed the second, giving the Eagles the ball with just seconds to spare. Because the Mariners ran a man-to-man defense all game, Coach Casseri called for a 2-3 zone as their last defensive stand.
The Eagles inbounded the ball and appeared dumbfounded to the zone, wasting all but one second trying to run their play through the new defense. A Hail Mary three pointer came nowhere close to the rim as the Mariners moved on to Saturday’s championship game against the hosting Lumen Christi Archangels.
Lumen has three returning seniors to an already capable varsity team that started the game off with many backdoor cuts to the basket that gave them an early lead on their home floor.
“Then we battled. The kids started listening and playing again. They shot the ball and worked hard to tie it up,” Casseri said.
Yet another back and forth game came down to the last two minutes of the final quarter when the Mariners’ defense took control as the more conditioned team, claiming the first place trophy with a three-point win.
Kenneth Schneider and Drew Brown were selected to the all-tournament team.
Casseri enjoyed his team’s success but realized that a few key injuries are keeping the Mariners away from a solid push toward their ultimate goal, a state title.
Senior Konstantin Reutov is now out indefinitely and is in need of hand surgery, shelving him for at least three months. Casseri admits that he would love to have him play later in the season, but not if there is a high risk of
re-injury that could jeopardize his soccer season. Junior Quinn Daugharty is listed as day-by-day with a back injury that would only see him playing with constant improvement within the next month. Mark McGregor also will look to get into the action as he finished his wrestling season last week.
With a lot of key injuries to experienced players, Casseri is looking to work the Mariner youth for more playing time, saying, “The JV squad is my best group hands down. If we had Konstantin, Mark, and Quinn with this current supporting cast, there’s no doubt in my mind that we would be going to state.” Although talent may be replaceable, varsity experience isn’t, which may be the hump that the Mariners need to get over early in the season. The Mariners travel to Anchorage for the Grace Christian Tournament today where they look for another trophy, taking on Grace, Soldotna, and Dimond.