From staff reports
Scott Young scored 1,375 points for the Hornell Red Raiders, earning the 2006 HHS grad a spot in the school hall of fame.
As the Red Raiders success on the basketball court continued, it didn’t appear that record would ever be broken. Championship teams have balanced scoring which makes it tough to score 1,000 points, much less break a school record.
And this season, Hornell is having a historical season with balanced scoring and incredible results. At 11-4, the Red Raiders are #1 in Class B1 with a chance to wrap up the top spot before the end of January, something unheard of.
However, for Hornell to achieve the success they have had as a team, it has meant Gennaro Picco taking, and making the big shots and leading the team in scoring on several occasions.
Tuesday night, not only did the Red Raiders come back to play back-to-back nights, they downed Pavilion, 81-38.
And early in the victory, Picco flew through the air, caught an alley-oop from his brother and slammed home a new school career scoring record.
As the gym filled up, you could tell this wasn’t just another mid-season home game. The stands were packed. The Seneca Street Zoo was out in full force. Excitement was in the air. Red Raider fans knew that this would be a game for the history books. No one quite knew how that history would be made, and it certainly didn’t disappoint!
Coming into Tuesday’s game, senior standout, Gennaro Picco, was just three points shy of breaking the Young’s record.
Everyone was waiting in eager anticipation. Would he hit a 3-pointer in the opening seconds?
Even the most prolific scorers seem to get stuck on 998 points or that basket needed to break a record. And that is what happened to Gennaro.
Gennaro got the tipped ball from brother PJ to take the first possession of the game, but he didn’t take a three point shot. Driving up the middle, Gennaro got trapped underneath and missed his first bucket. Pavilion took possession and scored the first points of the night. In fact, the Golden Gophers scored the first 5 points of the night.
Hornell was up 10-7 with 4 minutes to go in the first quarter when Gennaro scored his first points to tie the record. Less than a minute later, the Red Raiders forced a Pavilion turnover, and all eyes were on Gennaro as he dribbled up the court. He threw a quick pass to brother PJ Picco, and the plan was set in motion. Just like the Picco-to-Picco game winning goal this past soccer season to upset Livonia in the Section V Semifinals, PJ knew just what to do. Gennaro cut to the basket, and PJ’s perfectly placed lob sent Gennaro soaring through the air for the dunk. The crowd went wild! In storybook fashion, an 18-year record was broken on an alley-oop dunk assisted by his brother.
“Tonight was a great night in HHS basketball history,” said coach Kirk Scholes. “Watching ‘G’ work everyday for 4 years has been nothing but awesome. I don’t think he’s ever missed a practice. He goes hard everyday, and he’s so humble. He’s been a joy to coach, not only because of his talent but also his willingness to work. This will be a night that, in thirty years he will look back on and remember how much fun he had with his teammates, family, and friends.”
The game was paused for a short recognition by Hornell Athletic Director, John Cardamone.
“Gennaro is only the fourth player in Hornell boys basketball history to eclipse the 1000 point mark. He did this in only four years here at Hornell, one of which was a shortened season due to COVID. If we add in his 8th grade points from Houghton Academy, Gennaro has over 1,600 career points.” Cardamone said. “Gennaro will go down as one of the best shooters in school history, but he is much more than a basketball player. He also carries a 100.41 GPA and has never missed a full day of school.”
After the record-breaking celebration, the Red Raiders got back to business. All 10 players on the Red Raider roster saw significant playing time, and coach Scholes was proud of the way his team played all night. “I really liked how we played,” commented Scholes. “We made a couple strides with the way we communicated defensively. I thought Aaron McInerney and Xzaiver Patrick really stepped up in that area. They were communicating every trip, and I thought it made us more connected.”
McInerney led his team with 5 defensive rebounds and an impressive 5 steals on the night.
“PJ led us offensively with 19 points, and I thought we shot the ball well from the perimeter. Pavilion did a good job protecting the rim,” Scholes said. “The kids did a good job of getting paint touches and getting kick-outs off of it. We knocked down 13 3s, which is a really great number.
“I loved that everybody got into the scoring column tonight,” continued Scholes, “and I thought our bench gave us really good minutes throughout the game.”
PJ Picco led all scorers with 19 points, followed by Gennaro with 18. Aaron McInerney (11), Quinn Mauro (6), Wyatt Evingham (6), Nick Gray (6), Marco Picco (5), Demayne Dixon (5), Xzaiver Patrick (3), and Kellen Crowe (2) all scored for Hornell.
Pavilion’s Landon Stoddard led his team with 15 points, while Liam Campbell led the Gophers with 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
Hornell will host the AAA powerhouse Aquinas Friday night in what will be their toughest match this season. “Friday night we know we have our hands full with Aquinas. I’m looking forward to seeing how we compete. I want to see how we handle the challenge,” said Scholes.
When asked about the second half of the season getting closer and closer to sectional play, coach Scholes added, “We are getting to the point where we have under a month left in our season. How much better can we get in the next month is the question. We always talk about growing individually and collectively as a team. These next few weeks are so important to who we become in February and March.”
The Red Raiders are back to work tonight to prepare for Friday’s 7 p.m. game at home. Tune in to Peish Sports on YouTube for live coverage of Friday’s game and all Hornell sports.