By Shaun Savarese
Sun Sports Writer
Walking into the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena Saturday afternoon, I went to a door, the right door, but not the door where I was supposed to be. I was attending my first sporting event as a writer for The Evening Sun: The Section IV Class B Basketball finals.
I found the press entrance on my own and waited for Evening Sun Sports Editor Patrick Newell and longtime photographer Frank Speziale. They arrived in no time after finding parking on a very difficult traffic day in Binghamton.
I have lived in the Binghamton area for four years, working as a production assistant for the Binghamton Mets. Having grown up in Sidney, I have been to a number of events at the Arena, but this was my first as a member of the press.
I was anticipating covering my first Norwich basketball game, and excited to see how the teams would fare.
We sat down courtside just as the Norwich girls varsity basketball team was surging onto the court preparing to play. Oneonta had won its last two meetings against Norwich, not to mention six straight sectional championships.
Coming off a 24-point playoff win over Waverly in February, it was clear that Norwich knew this was a big game. Oneonta looked determined as well, but the Tornado’s energy was channeled through its head coach Josh Bennett. He was motivated and focused early in the game.
The Arena’s court is a little different than what high school athletes are used to playing on as it a temporary hardwood floor built on top of an hockey rink. Along with the playing surface – and as a former Section IV football player at Sidney – I know the atmosphere in the locker room before a playoff game can be tense; however, both teams appeared relaxed during warmups and at the start of the game.
“Tornado!” shouted Bennett, following the opening tip. His team immediately reacted and slid into position. There was a bit of contact on the first play, and he was visibly concerned.
Early in the game, Meghan Komendarek, the 6-foot-1 freshman, scored baseline and I was immediately impressed.