NORWICH – Norwich coach Mark Abbott looked into the eyes of his players before Tuesday’s STAC semifinal playoff game against Elmira Southside, and he saw a group that, by anyone’s definition, was flat.
Abbott’s suspicion was confirmed moments after the opening tip when Green Hornets forward Brent McLaurin stuffed an alley-oop pass less than 15 seconds into the game.
Fortunately, junior Josh Borfitz’s hot three-point shooting, and instant offense from reserve Richie Bonney inflated the once-flat Tornado, and the host team went on to 66-55 win before a capacity crowd at Jack Jones Gymnasium.
Norwich (17-2) plays Vestal Saturday night at 8:45 p.m. at the Binghamton University Event Center for its first STAC title since the 1993-1994 season. Norwich beat Vestal earlier this season at the STOP-DWI tourney in December by one point.
“Elmira Southside is a fantastic team,” Abbott said after the victory. “They’re athletic and well coached. For us to beat that team is a real feather in our cap.”
Following McLaurin’s early dunk, the Green Hornets consistently beat Norwich up and down the floor. Abbott, who usually keeps his timeouts close to the vest, called a TO just over three minutes into the game after back-to-back transition layups put the visitors up 8-5. Kevyn Walker’s layup off a pass from McLaurin made it 10-7, and started an 8-0 spurt to create a nine-point lead. McLaurin had eight in the first quarter, his last points a follow-up dunk after Mike Backer’s miss that left the score 18-9.