By JOHN ANDERSON
Playing on the road without a student section, the Hornell Raiders basketball team took a 15-point second half lead then held on to defeat Wellsville, 68-64 Friday night.
The rivalry always brings out the best in players, but what makes the rivalry even better is the unsung heroes. In 1993, guard Andy Gee came off the bench and drained a 3-pointer in Hornell to force a second overtime. Hornell did not have him anywhere on their scouting report.
Enter P.J. Picco from Hornell.
Last week, the 8th-grader was on the JV team. Friday night, he played in his first varsity game and scored 11 points.
And the big-time performance? His brother Gennaro Picco, just a 10th-grader, who scored a game-high 31 points.
“The whole group stepped up and made a lot of plays. Gennaro got us going, he had a feel all night long and shot the ball incredibly well,” said Hornell coach Kirk Scholes. “We needed that performance tonight because winning over here in Wellsville is not easy. A lot of kids stepped up and played well. It was a team effort, you had guys taking charges, we were undersized like crazy, they were getting rebounds, we have a lot of fighters, they will give you everything they got.”
With the game appearing to be out of reach, Wellsville scored 25 points in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to two with 1:30 left. Eli Schmidt (21 points) hit a couple 3-pointers, then Logan Dunbar (24 points, 14 rebounds) took over, scoring 14 of his team-high 22 with two 3-pointers.
However, Gennaro Picco’s buzzer-beater 3-pointer to end the third quarter seemed to be the points Wellsville was chasing the last eight minutes. Picco also blocked a shot despite Wellsville running a nifty two-on-one fast break against him.
Hornell’s Colin McCumiskey’s two free throws with 15.4 seconds left extended the lead to four which was the difference.
Cody Costello had 10 points and five assists for Wellsville while Aidan Riley had four points, four assists and three steals.
With a loud Wellsville student section and both benches cheering, the game had a sectional feel. It was also technically the showcase game of the Barkley Showcase which was canceled because of Covid concerns.
“We always talk about these atmospheres and big games, rivalry games,” Scholes said. “These kids have been around Hornell basketball long enough to know this was a big game and not easy to come in and win. We had to play well on defense and share the ball on the offensive end.”
If this was the Barkley Showcase, Gennaro Picco would have been at halfcourt receiving his MVP award from members of the Allegany County Sheriff Deputy’s who put on the event. The event raises money for scholarships for students in Allegany and Steuben counties and will continue to do so despite no games this year.
“Gennaro … He’s a basketball player, he loves hoops. He puts so much time in numerous camps,” Scholes said. “His IQ as a 10th grader is through the charts. The work he puts in shows in the games and I’m glad I have him for a few more years.”
Christian Babcock had eight points for Hornell while Gates Miller had five, A.J. Hoyt had six and Noah Kraatz drained a 3-pointer.
Hornell 15 20 16 17 — 68
Wellsville 17 8 14 25 — 64
HORNELL: Christian Babcock 2 2-2 8; P.J. Picco 4 3-3 11; Gates Miller 2 0-0 5; Shawn Rose 0 0-2 0; Gennaro Picco 9 8-10 31; A.J. Hoyt 2 0-0 6; Colin McCumiskey 1 2-2 4; Noah Kraatz 1 0-0 3; Dylan Harwood 0 0-2 0. TOTALS: 31 15-21 68
WELLSVILLE: Cody Costello 2 5-9 10; Alex Perkins 1 2-4 4; Cooper Brockway 1 0-0 3; Eli Schmidt 7 4-9 21; Aidan Riley 2 0-1 4; Logan Dunbar 8 4-4 24. TOTALS: 21 15-27 64
3-point goals: Hornell 11 (G. Picco 5, Babcock 2, Hoyt 2, Miller, Kraatz). Wellsville 7 (Schmidt 3, Dunbar 2, Brockway, Costello)
Total fouls: Hornell 24, Wellsville 20. Fouled out: Gates (H), Schmidt (W)