Norwich 57, Owego 35
NORWICH – In the first two minutes 55 seconds of the third quarter, Norwich scored more points than it put on the board against Owego than it scored the entire first half.
The Indians clung tightly for a half, but had not nearly enough firepower to hang with the Tornado, who advanced in the Section IV Class A playoffs Wednesday night.
Norwich was no slouch on the defensive end in the first half allowing just 15 Owego points. Though that aspect of the host Purple and White’s game was as good as ever, its offense floundered. Vaughn Labor put back Josh Borfitz’s missed three-pointer with 1:39 left in the half giving NHS a 16-15 lead. It was the fewest points Norwich scored in one half on its own court all season.
“I wish I had an answer for our offensive woes in the first half,” said Norwich coach Mark Abbott. “The first quarter was extremely frustrating for us. I had no choice but to look for a spark from some other guys (on the bench).”
While defense and the Tornado reserves held Norwich close, that same defense afforded Norwich ample scoring opportunities in the third quarter. NHS forced nine Owego turnovers in the stanza, and Corey Dietrich netted 13 of his 15 points – most coming as layups after steals or in transition.
Leading Owego 18-17 early in the third, Dietrich had eight points in a 12-0 NHS run. Timmy Clark hit two free throws after an Owego technical foul, and Richie Bonney also made a pair of free throws when he was fouled after an offensive rebound. In all, Norwich outscored the Indians 26-11 in the quarter setting the stage for a victory lap of a fourth quarter. “It was pretty much play better or have our season end,” Abbott said. “We did a much better job attacking the basket in the third quarter, and Corey was the recipient of many fine passes.”