NORWICH – Norwich and Oneonta set themselves apart from the rest of the Class B schools in Section IV almost from the start of the 2013-2014 basketball season. So, it's no surprise that we'll see Norwich-Oneonta sectional finals Saturday night– boys and girls – at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.
Below are sneak peeks at those games.
Norwich (13-6) vs. Oneonta (17-2), 5:15 p.m.
Other than offseason games in team camps, Norwich coach Josh Bennett cannot recall when his club has beaten Oneonta. Bennett isn't alone as few teams have topped the Yellowjackets, winners of six straight sectional championships.
Oneonta swept the two meetings with Norwich this season beating the Tornado by seven in Norwich, and following that up with a nine-point victory (60-51) at Oneonta on Jan. 22.
Norwich's defense has allowed just over 40 points per game this season, and opponents reached 50 points a mere four times with Oneonta accounting for two of those 50-plus point performances.
The 'Jackets are again led by senior guard Mariah Ruff, who starred for Oneonta in a sectional finals victory over Norwich in 2012. Ruff had 30 points in the opening win over Norwich, and averages a team-high 20 points a game this season. Ruff will make her share of plays, Bennett said, it's just a matter of how much damage the rest of the lineup will incur. "It's kind of a pick-your-poison situation," Bennett said. "You can double Mariah, but she's such a great passer, and can find the open man."
Ruff is the cog that makes the offense go, but it is the defense where the full team concept comes into play. Over the past five seasons, the Yellowjackets have defended the up-tempo Norwich attack as well or better than any team in the section. Norwich scored nearly 50 points per game in its two losses against Oneonta, but it wasn't easy.