ONEONTA – Chalk up another win for MAC’s division one.
Walton, who moved into the higher division this season, won its first outright league title and kept Oxford and division two winless in championship games with a 46-42 victory over the Blackhawks, Saturday evening at Oneonta State’s Fieldhouse Gymnasium.
Offensive rhythm and flow were foreign words after the first quarter. Insert, hustle, physical play, and scrappiness, and that better describes the action in which neither team shot the ball particularly well.
“All game, I thought our defense was terrific,” said Walton fourth-year coach Gary Williams. “Oxford has some players that shoot the ball well, and I think the key was our ability to maintain that level of defense the whole game.”
Walton was nearly as stingy on defense as its state-championship football team, and forced nearly as many turnovers. The Blackhawks had over 20 miscues for the game, a season-high, and shot 15-for-51 for the game. Take away a 50 percent first quarter (6-for-12), and Oxford was a mere 23 percent from the field.
“I felt they controlled the tempo nearly the entire game, and we weren’t able to get out and run the floor like we usually do,” said Oxford coach Tim Davis, who has led his team to three league championship games in his four years at the helm. “We turned it over way too much, and to play as badly as we did, we were still in the game.”
Yes, Oxford was not only in the game, it led by five points, 18-13, at halftime. While the Blackhawks were stumbling to a 1-for-12 shooting performance in the second quarter, they actually extended their first-quarter lead from three to five points.
Walton misfired on its first nine shot attempts of the second quarter, and the last, a Patrick O’Brien putback basket at the horn served as the Warriors’ only points of the quarter.
Tempo, moved to a near crawl with each team battling to find shots in their halfcourt sets. The Blackhawks’ shooting woes extended through the period making 2-of-11 shots.
Walton went on a 7-0 run midway through the quarter starting with a pair of O’Brien free throws. Drew Hammond scored on a layup off an inbounds pas closing it to one, and Chad Gardepe converted a layup and three-point play following an O’Brien steal to put Walton in front for the first time...