NORWICH – Although Owego was new to the Tom Schwan Memorial Basketball Tournament, it was the same old story for the Indians.
Facing longtime STAC rival Norwich in the finals Saturday night, the Tornado beat Owego for the 13th straight time to grab their third straight tournament title, 70-55.
Since beating Norwich 11 straight times at the start of NHS head coach Mark Abbott’s career, Norwich has owned the rivalry taking 19 of 20 and 27 out of the last 29 contests. “We’ve had their number for a while,” Abbott said. “But they’re a very good basketball team, and we’ll need to play well at their place Friday.”
The Norwich offense was in high gear the final two quarters against Chenango Valley Friday night, and kept the pedal to the metal in the first half against Owego. Jon Foulds unloaded from long range hitting a pair of three-pointers in the game’s first two minutes, and he had 16 points by halftime as Norwich jumped out to a 43-27 lead. Foulds, who finished with a career-high 26 points, was aided by tournament MVP Dennis Oralls, who netted nine of his 12 points in the second stanza. After struggling on offense the first five minutes of the second quarter, Norwich scored 16 points over the last 2:55 to extend a 30-22 lead to 16 points. Foulds and Oralls had all but one of those points hitting from the inside and outside.
“I’d rather see that balance (on offense), but as along as have someone putting the ball in the basket... ,” Abbott said. “In the first quarter, we played extremely well, we moved the ball, and we were playing with confidence. In the second quarter, we started to stand around too much. Jon started to go to the basket, and all off a sudden, we had (Owego’s) defense on its heels again.”
Although Owego did not close the margin inside 10 points in the second half, it would not go away. Mark Merritt hurt Norwich on the inside with nine points in the third quarter, and Stephen Yanchus scored seven in the same quarter. “We don’t have that big body inside this year,” Abbott said. “We have to find a way to scrape and claw and make it tough for our opponent. I like our effort, and we were able to find a way tonight.”
In the consolation game, Oxford got off to a slow start for the second straight night falling behind CV by 11 points after one quarter. All-tournament pick, Kyle Moyer led a balanced CV offense in the opening quarter scoring seven of his 23 points, and Chris Ruffo added 12 of his game-high 25 in the second quarter as Oxford closed the margin to three at halftime.
The Blackhawks were down by nine after three quarters thanks to the combo of Moyer and Robert Heller, who combined for 13 points. Throughout the fourth, every time the Blackhawks made a run, CV had an answer. “Today, we played better for the most part,” said Oxford coach Tim Davis. “Except for a couple of bad spurts. Untimely turnovers and unnecessary fouls made the difference.”
Justin Schray scored 22 points to lead Oxford and Andrew Golden added 21. The Blackhawks play at Unatego Tuesday.
Friday night, Norwich coasted into the finals beating Southern Tier Athletic Conference rival Chenango Valley, 71-40. Not only was it a tournament victory, but it served as the Tornado’s first league win. “We needed the win in order to defend our championship, but the game was doubly important because it was a league game,” Abbott said.
Oralls poured in a career-high 29 points for Norwich, and was 12-for-12 from the foul line. Oralls canned 12 points during a 22-12 third quarter as the Tornado stretched a 10-point halftime lead to 20. Over the first 4 1/2 minutes of the fourth, the Tornado outscored CV 17-6 with freshman Kyle Edwards sinking two free throws to make it 66-35. Edwards finished with 10 points and Foulds added nine. “Our defense was tenacious Friday night, and we made it difficult for CV to get high percentage shots,” Abbott said. “It seemed like everyone who came in on both nights really contributed. We will need that depth and balance this season.”
Oxford nearly overcame 30 turnovers and a 14-point first-quarter deficit before faltering in the fourth quarter against the Indians. The Blackhawks made four three-pointers in the third quarter, and briefly led 33-32 after John Wonka’s trifecta with 1:29 left in the stanza.
Matt Worchocki converted a layup after an Oxford turnover with 33 seconds left in the quarter to put the Indians back in front, and the Blackhawks’ offense fell silent for nearly six minutes to start the fourth. During that time, Owego rattled off 11 straight points to build a double-digit lead.
Yanchus had 16 of his game-high 23 points in the second half to pace Owego.
Golden scored 19 for Oxford.
NOTES: In the junior varsity championship game, Norwich, down by nine midway through the fourth quarter, forced overtime on Matthew Burke’s last-second hoop, and prevailed 55-54 over Owego... .The most made free throws in the Mark Abbott coaching era is 14. Brian Collier and Paul Schultz each went 14-for-15.
Norwich 70, Owego 55
Owego: Matt Worchocki, 5 1-3-12; Nick Larrabee, 0; Stephen Yanchus, 6 2-2-16; John Morton, 0; Taylor Woloch, 0; Devin Bensley, 0; Jake Shelley, 0; Robbie Black, 3 5-5-11; Dylan Angulas, 0; Mark Merritt, 7 1-2-16; D.J. Mest, 0; Scott Johnson, 0. Totals: 21 9-12-55.
NHS: Kyle Edwards, 1 2-2-4; Nate Ashton, 1 0-0-2; Dennis Oralls, 4 3-5-12; Patrick Taylor, 0 0-0-0; Josh Favaloro, 2 0-0-5; Jacob Kelly, 3 1-2-8; Frank Somich, 0 0-0-0; Grady Thompson, 0 0-2-0; Seth Thomsen, 3 1-3-7; Jon Foulds, 9 4-8-26; Eric Walling, 1 0-0-3; Zach Martinson, 1 1-1-3. Totals: 25 12-23-70.
Owe. 12 15 16 12–55
NHS 21 22 13 14–70
Fouled out: (O) M. Merritt. Three-point goals: (N) Foulds 4. JV: Norwich won 55-54 over Owego in overtime. Officials: Berg, Vinsevich.