NORWICH – Norwich never loosened its grip on the championship trophy in defending its Pennysaver Tournament title Saturday night at Jack Jones Gymnasium.
The Tornado breezed to a pair of victories, and won the 30th annual tournament in convincing fashion Saturday against Greene, 49-19.
The tournament’s most valuable player, Hannah Runyon, didn’t need to play a minute in the fourth quarter finishing with 10 points as the Tornado improved their record on the young season to 3-1 overall.
“I hope this is something that gives our team confidence,” said Norwich coach Josh Bennett, who admitted his players are not that familiar with blowout wins. “It seems like the last two years, we’ve had to gut out every game. These games were different for me to coach.”
Bennett gave ample playing time to all nine players availed to him, and every player scored at least three pionts.
Runyon had six points in the first quarter, and Molly DeMellier connected for five – including a three-pointer – as Norwich blanked Greene for eight minutes to take a 13-0 lead. Norwich padded the lead to 27-4 at halftime getting eight points off the bench, and a pair of baskets from junior starter Bryn Loomis. Greene head coach Dave Gorton saw the writing on the wall by the end of the first stanza.
“We felt that if we could survive the first quarter, we’d have a chance,” Gorton said. “We didn’t survive the first quarter. Our defense was good against a really good offensive team, but our inexperience really showed.”
Greene had its best moments in the third quarter, but only lopped two points off the Norwich margin as the Tornado maintained a 34-13 after three stanzas. “This is a group that is hungry and driven,” Bennett said. “It was nice to see some of the girls that don’t get a lot of minutes at times really contribute a lot.”
Oxford raced to a 21-4 lead in the first quarter, and was never challenged beating Sidney, 49-19 in the consolation game.
Haley Witchella, Oxford’s all-tournament pick, scored 13 of her 16 points in the opening quarter. She hit two three-pointers, and Lacey Barry added a three ball during the quarter. Barry and Jackie Heggie each finished with nine points for the Blackhawks, who improved to 3-1 on the season. “We hit our first threes of the season and we played to our team’s ability,” said Oxford coach Chris Palmer. “We’ve been a defense-oriented team in past years, and I don’t think that’s going to change. We’d like to get to 50 points every game, and if we can do that, we’ll win a lot of games.”
Friday, Runyon just missed a triple-double leading the Tornado with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists in a 51-38 win over the Blackhawks.
Oxford clung to within 25-21 at halftime getting eight second-quarter points from Witchella. Norwich opened the lead to 17 points in the third quarter getting a three-pointer from Bryn Loomis, and a traditional three-point play from Runyon that made it 44-27 entering the fourth quarter.
“We were able to get better shots (in the third quarter) because we were playing better defense,” Bennett said. “Our defense really drives our offense.”
Loomis, an all-tournament pick, finished with 11 points, and all-tourney selection, Molly DeMellier added nine to the mix.
Witchella had 20 points, 12 rebounds, and six blocked shots for Oxford.
Greene advanced to the finals easing by Sidney, 34-18.
The Trojans expanded a 17-11 halftime lead holding Sidney scoreless in the third quarter. Jessica Brooks had a pair of baskets in the middle of the stanza, and Sidney did not score its first points of the second half until nearly 2 1/2 minutes were expired in the fourth quarter. Brooks led Greene with nine points to go with seven rebounds, and Kaitlin Gorton picked up five steals.
“We just played outstanding defense in this game,” coach Gorton said.
Norwich 49, Greene 19
Greene: Rachel Turner, 0; Andrea Day, 1 1-2-3; Emily Conroe, 0; Jessica Brooks, 3 0-0-6; Kaitlin Gorton, 1 0-0-2; Rebecca Smith, 0; Natalie Greene, 2 1-2-5; Alisha Montelione, 0 1-3-1; Shannon Gregory, 1 0-0-2. Totals: 8 3-7-19.
Norwich: Miranda Costin, 1 1-2-3; Brooke Bonney, 1 1-2-3; Cassie Sutton, 3 0-0-6; Devon Palen, 2 1-4-5; Molly DeMellier, 2 0-2-5; Bryn Loomis, 3 0-0-6; Hailey Dietrich, 4 0-1-8; Sophie Stewart, 0 3-4-3; Hannah Runyon, 2 6-6-10. Totals: 18 12-21-49...