BINGHAMTON – It was all going so well for Norwich: A strong first half, and a lead that was stretched to 10 points early in the second half. It looked like the Purple Tornado would finally solve Oneonta and end the Yellowjackets’ six-year string of Section IV titles.
Then the momentum switched – big time.
“We got into a rut,” said Norwich senior guard Jenni Borfitz, who paused for a moment before adding, “a pretty big rut.”
The ‘Jackets nearly doubled their point total rattling off 22 unanswered points to turn a 10-point deficit into a 12-point cushion on their way to a 51-44 victory in the Section IV Class B finals, Saturday night at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.
Carin Kuhn hit a three for Norwich to elevate her team’s lead to 33-23 with 5:15 left in the third quarter. That three-spot prompted an Oneonta timeout and a change in strategy. Norwich’s offense then went into a 9-minute, 29-second slumber in which Oneonta came out of its patented zone, and went for broke with a man-to-man defense.
“They had figured out our zone, and were getting a lot of good looks,” said Oneonta coach Matt Miller. “We switched to man because we thought we would get more pressure on their shooters. Honestly, we’ve gone man a little bit, but we’ve been a zone team all season. I was a little nervous making the switch, but we had our backs to the wall.”
It helped that Oneonta had all-state point guard Mariah Ruff leading a senior-dominated lineup. Ruff had a hand in the comeback, but welcomed contributions from Brittney Herrick and Maria DiMartin to put Oneonta over the top. Ruff scored 17, Herrick had 16, and DiMartin 14. The latter two seniors finished substantially over their season scoring averages, and those points were assuredly needed.