Norwich tightens up on defense to win sectional opener

Boys’ Basketball

Norwich 50, Corning East 44

CONKLIN – Norwich made up a 10-point deficit in the first quarter, then shook off a six-point Trojans lead in the fourth quarter finishing the game on a 14-2 run to advance into the Section IV Class A semifinals at Oneonta Friday.

Josh Borfitz scored all seven of his points during the late-game run to key the Tornado surge, and Vaughn Labor along with Patrick Coates stepped in to take two critical charges in the final minute preserving the advantage.

“It seems like every game we have played them, it’s been a battle,” said Norwich coach Mark Abbott. “There were a lot of bodies on the floor, and I was really happy we showed the fortitude to come back.”

Corning East, the number five seed entering the tournament, raced to a 17-7 first-quarter lead behind two threes from Simon Bailor and another trifecta off the hands of Andrew Matson.

The Tornado’s biggest response to that early adversity was better defense. “We came out very flat and found ourselves in a hole,” Abbott said. “We went to our press, and that picked up our energy and enthusiasm. We got some steals, scored in transition, and got back in the game.”

Norwich seemed to take command in the third quarter, and led 36-30 late after two three balls from Coates. Bailor, who had five treys and 20 points in the game, kick-started his club’s 12-0 run putting the Trojans up 42-36 after two more threes with six minutes left in the fourth quarter.

A pair of free throws from Norwich’s Nate Foote and a single freebie from Justin Ballin pared the lead in half, and Borfitz scored his first points of the game burying a trifecta tying it at 42-42 with 4:27 to play.

Borfitz tied the game once more scoring in transition off a Timmy Clark pass, and he added his last bucket off another Clark feed making it 47-44 with 1 1/2 minutes to play.

Norwich sealed the game with two big step-ins for charges and three foul shots. “The last two possessions, Corning East was really focused on taking the ball to the basket hard,” Abbott said. “We had guys laying it on the line on defense at the end because we didn’t want our season to end. Coupled with the fact we lost a tough game to them last year, there was a lot of motivation to win.”

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