CORNING - Clutch plays on offense and defense aided Corning Community College in its 96-91 victory over Broome Community College in the subregional round of the NJCAA Region III playoffs, despite the Hornets connecting on 17 3-pointers.
“It’s hard to beat a team three times,” CCC head coach Issac Bushey said. “They haven’t been healthy when we’ve played them. Their kids showed up ready to play. They shot the ball really well. Hats off to them.”
After easily defeating Broome by 23 and 22 points during the regular season, the Red Barons found themselves in a battle down 87-85 with 3:51 to play.
The next CCC possession, Andre Starks drilled a long-range triple from the left wing that put the Red Barons up one.
Broome responded with a bucket from Tron Smith followed by a twisting layup in the lane on the response from CCC’s Ramel Powers that gave Corning a 90-89 lead with 2:11 to go.
The ensuing Hornets possession, Corning’s Peter Bruce-Allington forced a Broome turnover that gave the Red Barons the ball with 1:51 on the clock.
“It was big,” said Bushey of the turnover. “We kept saying to run them off the line and make them make passes in the interior. Finally, we did that and got rewarded.”
Starks came up clutch again for the Red Barons to salt the game away, netting a floater in the lane that gave Corning a three-point advantage with under a minute left.
Starks put up all of his 11 points in the second half, including the two clutch buckets and free-throws to put the game out of reach.
“All he knows how to do is compete,” said Bushey of Starks. “He’s not afraid of a moment. We talked about, with five minutes to go, ‘Who’s our finishing lineup?,’ and he was the first person we said. He’s just got that clutch factor in him.”
Corning had five players in double figures in addition to Starks, including Nick Craig (16), Malik White (15), Gavin Stein (14), Keith Harris (11) and Bruce-Allington (10).
The Red Barons were without leading scorer Sam Kelly due to an ankle injury, which forced other guys to do different things.
“We become more of a perimeter team [with Sam out] at times, relying on jumpers,” Bushey said. “We ask guys to do more driving to the rim than they are used to.”
The Hornets trailed 53-51 at halftime after netting 10 3-pointers in a first half that included eight lead changes to keep them on pace with the Red Barons.
“Our calling card has been defense since I’ve been here,” said Bushey. “It’s 53-51 at halftime and you’re saying, ’I don’t know how much I hate our defense.’ They just made shots. That’s part of the game sometimes.”
Zachary Porter led Broome with 21 points including five 3-pointers.
Corning, the No. 5 seed, will travel to Troy to take on fourth-seeded Hudson Valley at 5 p.m. Tuesday.