Norwich 55, Oneonta 48
ONEONTA - Norwich cleared the first hurdle of the season Wednesday, and it was a big one.
The Tornado shut down Oneonta’s leading scorer Jordan Gutierrez, and used a balanced offense attack to hand the ‘Jackets their first loss of the season.
Gutierrez scored 36 in Oneonta’s Drago Tournament victory over Johnson City last weekend. The junior guard was held to two field goals and seven points against NHS.
Still, Oneonta hung in behind first-year varsity player Albert Odero, who had a game-high 22 points.
Norwich countered with three players in double figures scoring. Junior Mike Oralls scored an even dozen, Storm Cook bucketed a career-high 11, and Mike Sutton chimed in with 10.
Norwich clung to a two-point lead entering the fourth quarter, and slowly extended the advantage toward the end making nine out of 16 free throws.
The lead was created at the end of the third with what NHS coach Tom Collier called the biggest shot of the game. With Norwich trailing by one, sophomore Carlos Ithier buried a three to give Norwich a lead it would not relinquish. “It was a great win, but our kids gutted it out in what was a hostile environment,” Collier said. “Oneonta has a very good team, and will win a lot of games this year.”
Oralls and Cook finished with double-doubles as each pulled down 10 rebounds apiece. Sutton, the steadying influence at point guard, dished out six assists. Collier said the three road preseason scrimmages were keys in preparing for last night’s opener.
“We went on the road to play three very good teams, and that was critical,” Collier said. “We wanted to prepare ourselves for adverse situations.”
Norwich hosts its annual basketball tournament this Friday and Saturday. The Tornado face Whitney Point at 7:45 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s Class B sectional final. In the prelim, Susquehanna Valley clashes with Sidney.
Statistical notes: Norwich shot 18 of 60 (30 percent) from the field, but had 23 offensive rebounds and just five total turnovers. Oneonta, meanwhile, had just 38 shots for the game shooting 37 percent overall...Norwich’s sophomore duo of Ithier and Jamison Luke had big days off the bench. Luke had six points and six boards, while Ithier hit two threes in the second half on his way to eight points. Cook proved difficult to box out pulling down eight offensive boards.