Norwich 65, Oneonta 42
NORWICH – In a matchup of the two top-ranked Class B teams in Section IV, Norwich asserted its number one status, while Oneonta is clearly a distant second.
Norwich senior guard Michael Sutton shredded the ‘Jackets’ defense for 24 points, Mike Oralls had 11 points eight rebounds, and six assists, and Storm Cook had eight points, 12 rebounds, and three blocked shots as the unbeaten Purple Tornado improved to 11-0 on the season.
“We’ll celebrate tonight, but we have to get back to work tomorrow,” said Norwich coach Tom Collier. “What this does give us is a two-game buffer (in the STAC East). We still have a lot of tough games ahead, and we know we have a target on our back.”
Sutton carried the Norwich offense early hitting his first three three-point attempts in the opening quarter and scoring 13 as Norwich raced to a 19-11 lead.
Oneonta weathered that early storm, and slowed the tempo of the game. Paul Bischoff had two buckets sandwiched around Albert Odero’s driving layup, and Odero completed the half with another driving layup to close Norwich’s lead to 29-23.
“Jerry (Mackey, Oneonta’s coach) really did a great job of mixing his defenses in the first half to keep his team in position,” Collier said. “Oneonta was playing at the pace they like to play at. We can play at any pace, but we’re at our best when we’re attacking.”
Collier and his coaching staff emphasized poise and playing with confidence during the intermission, and above all, attack on the offensive end. Oneonta was within five points in the third quarter three separate instances, the last time at 36-31 after a Bischoff jumper. From there, Norwich controlled the action.
Cook elevated high for an offensive rebound, one that served as a precursor for Oralls’ driving layup. Cook followed that with a corner three ball off a Sutton feed, and Matt Burke fueled the fire burying a three from just right of the key. Sutton had a traditional three-point play with 72 seconds left in the stanza, and Oralls ended the quarter putting back a short jumper with one second left giving Norwich its biggest lead, 50-33.
“We told the team that we’ve been here before, and to not get caught up in the hoopla,” Collier said. “We did a great job coming out in the second half and establishing what we wanted to do.”
Norwich also contained Oneonta’s ballyhooed junior guard Jordan Gutierrez holding him to nine points, 17 below his season average. Odero, who had 22 in the first meeting with Norwich this season, finished with just 10. Less than two minutes into the fourth, Gutierrez, Odero, and the rest of the Oneonta starters had taken a seat on the bench for the night.
“Undoubtably, Michael Sutton was the best player in the gym tonight,” Collier. “Sometimes he’s forgotten, but he’s an all-state point guard with great senior leadership, and he’s a great teammate. He was the man tonight.”
Norwich’s JV team avenged an opening-game loss to Oneonta rallying from an 11-0 deficit at the outset to prevail, 57-45. Jake Walsh led Norwich with 20, Jordan Vinal had 12 points and 11 rebounds, Tre Bonham scored 10, and Cameron Edwards had nine points, six rebounds, and a team-high five assists.
Norwich (11-0) hosts Susquehanna Valley Thursday.
Oneonta: Kragh Delello, 1 0-0-3; Noah Sheehan, 0 0-0-0; Tim Kamiha, 1 0-0-3; Jordan Gutierrez, 4 0-0-9, Albert Odero, 5 0-1-10; Paul Bischoff, 4 0-0-8, George Foti, 1 0-0-2, Mike Wolstenholme, 0, Brock Eichler, 1 3-4-5, Ben Southern, 0, Kevin Smith, 0, Trevor Wolf-Gould, 1 0-0-2; Willy Harrison, 0. Totals: 18 3-5-42.