Kennedy Catholic 65, Norwich 46
BINGHAMTON – Norwich hasn’t lost much the past four seasons under head coach Tom Collier, and Tuesday’s defeat to Kennedy Catholic was likely the most one-sided loss during his tenure.
The Gaels proved a bigger, faster version of the Tornado capturing the Mirabito Stop DWI Holiday Classic Region One title, and it did so with alarming precision.
“Of all the teams I’ve scouted and graded since I’ve coached here, Kennedy Catholic is the highest rated team I’ve every scouted,” Collier said. “They are one of the top Class A teams in the state, and everyone on their roster can play.”
Kennedy Catholic asserted itself early in the second quarter to create a 31-21 halftime lead. Forward Dominick Castiano, a versatile 6-foot-7 inside/outside threat, had an early-quarter dunk, and he backed that up with a three ball from just right of the top of the key that raised the Gaels’ lead to 25-15
Norwich’s Zan Stewart converted a spinning layup that he turned into a three-point play, and after a Gaels bucket, junior reserve Jake Walsh hit a three ball for NHS cutting the deficit to 28-21 with two minutes to play in the half.
Norwich was blanked the rest of the period, and Kennedy Catholic backup forward Malachi de Sousa put a stamp on the first half scoring throwing down a breakaway dunk.
The Tornado was not lacking for hustle and floor burns diving for loose balls, but found itself swimming against the tide all evening.
Tournament MVP Sean Delaney caught fire in the third quarter. The lefty guard buried a three early in the third to give his club a 12-point lead, and he had 13 of his 15 points in the second half as the bulge grew to as many as 24 points in the fourth quarter.
Stewart posted a double-double in the loss scoring 12 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. Carlos Ithier added 10 points connecting on a trio of three-pointers.
“We scrapped and competed against a really good basketball team,” Collier said. “You can say we missed some layups and this and that, but the reality is that they created a lot of our problems. I’m glad we played them. When you play teams of that caliber, it makes you better, and we’ll get better from this game.”