NORWICH – In capturing its fifth straight Tom Schwan Memorial Basketball Tournament title Saturday night, the host Norwich Purple Tornado did not dazzle with individual brilliance or spine-tingling plays.
Instead, it was a workmanlike effort of nine young men, one that yielded a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Coming out of halftime, NHS flipped the tenor of its championship clash with Utica Notre Dame outscoring the Jugglers 18-4 over the eight-minute period. Down the stretch, NHS turned away Notre Dame’s comeback effort with pivotal free throw shooting in a 52-44 win.
In back-to-back wins this past weekend, Norwich had just one player in each game reach double figures – MVP Kyle Edwards – and no other player had more than nine in either game. True to the makeup of this year’s young squad, every player is a contributor, and every player is a threat to the opponent in his own unique way. “Right before the game, we told the kids that they needed to support one another, and to beat Utica Notre Dame, we needed to play as one,” said second-year Norwich coach Tom Collier. “We’re not a one-man show.”
Collier, was referring to UND’s Simon Pitman as a one-man show based on his team’s scouting report and Pitman’s 36-point night against Sidney on Friday that sent the Jugglers into the championship.
Pitman had his moments, but fell silent during Norwich’s big third quarter. Edwards, who finished with 13 points, had nine points in the stanza including 5-of-6 from the free throw line and a pair of buckets. Edwards struggled from the field during the game (3-for-12), and instead created scoring opportunities with hard drives to the basket. “Kyle did an unbelievable job guarding Pitman, and he, Danny Carson, and Grant Brightman are such good leaders,” Collier said. “They led us by example tonight.”