By Robert Jeffrey
Sun Sports Contributor
Frank Speziale Photo
NORWICH – The last time a top-seeded Norwich boys basketball team played a sectional quarterfinal game on a Saturday was in 2015. The result? A 65-62 loss against the eighth-seeded Chenango Valley Warriors, who carried the momentum through sectionals winning a Section IV title in the process.
Ironically enough, Norwich had CV’s calling card that season, cashing in on two 20-point wins that year. In the case of Saturday’s opponent, Feb. 25, in Newark Valley, Norwich delivered a 19-point win against the Cardinals in December’s Tom Schwan tournament and a 41 point victory in last year’s sectional quarterfinals. At first glance, it appeared as though Norwich would tempt fate once again.
With the Cardinals playing the part of Cinderella, they made Norwich work for every single point. And with Norwich’s offensive motor struggling to start the Cardinals made every basket they made hurt, taking a one point advantage 12-11 into the second quarter of play. The offensive play of Dashawn King scoring seven of Norwich’s 11-points in the first quarter kept the Purple Tornado afloat. And with the lackluster play from their other offensive weapons, Norwich needed answers.
Things only got worse for Norwich as Newark Valley pushed their lead to 26-17 with 4:15 remaining in the second period and the intensity of the Cardinal crowd began to rise.
But Norwich fought back, scoring nine straight points – including seven straight from NHS center Chris Jeffrey – managing to tie the game at 26 with 2:15 remaining in the period.
A series of scores from Newark Valley’s Dan Lindhorst and Quartus Steika regained the lead for the visitors. Ky’sawn Veale’s two-point opportunity cut the Cardinals lead to 31-28 at the half. For the Norwich faithful, it appeared as though it was déjà vu all over again.