NORWICH – Although Owego was new to the Tom Schwan Memorial Basketball Tournament, it was the same old story for the Indians.
Facing longtime STAC rival Norwich in the finals Saturday night, the Tornado beat Owego for the 13th straight time to grab their third straight tournament title, 70-55.
Since beating Norwich 11 straight times at the start of NHS head coach Mark Abbott’s career, Norwich has owned the rivalry taking 19 of 20 and 27 out of the last 29 contests. “We’ve had their number for a while,” Abbott said. “But they’re a very good basketball team, and we’ll need to play well at their place Friday.”
The Norwich offense was in high gear the final two quarters against Chenango Valley Friday night, and kept the pedal to the metal in the first half against Owego. Jon Foulds unloaded from long range hitting a pair of three-pointers in the game’s first two minutes, and he had 16 points by halftime as Norwich jumped out to a 43-27 lead. Foulds, who finished with a career-high 26 points, was aided by tournament MVP Dennis Oralls, who netted nine of his 12 points in the second stanza. After struggling on offense the first five minutes of the second quarter, Norwich scored 16 points over the last 2:55 to extend a 30-22 lead to 16 points. Foulds and Oralls had all but one of those points hitting from the inside and outside.
“I’d rather see that balance (on offense), but as along as have someone putting the ball in the basket... ,” Abbott said. “In the first quarter, we played extremely well, we moved the ball, and we were playing with confidence. In the second quarter, we started to stand around too much. Jon started to go to the basket, and all off a sudden, we had (Owego’s) defense on its heels again.”
Although Owego did not close the margin inside 10 points in the second half, it would not go away. Mark Merritt hurt Norwich on the inside with nine points in the third quarter, and Stephen Yanchus scored seven in the same quarter. “We don’t have that big body inside this year,” Abbott said. “We have to find a way to scrape and claw and make it tough for our opponent. I like our effort, and we were able to find a way tonight.”