Wildcats force playoff with Norwich

NORWICH – An ankle injury kept Rashawn Powell out of the lineup in Johnson City’s three-point loss to Norwich in December. Powell’s presence on the floor Wednesday night at Jack Jones Gymnasium was certainly the difference this time around as he led the Wildcats with 25 points in a 64-54 victory.

The Tornado (14-2) were looking to clinch their third straight STAC Central Division title. To do that, they will need to win the rubber match of this year’s three-game series with JC in a one-game playoff Friday night at 7 p.m. at Binghamton High School.

“The energy was great and I have to thank the Norwich fans for their ethusiasm and support. It’s too bad we couldn’t have played a little bit better tonight,” said Norwich coach Mark Abbott.

Norwich had trouble finding the range in the first half, and after scoring just seven points in the second quarter, trailed the Wilcats at the break, 27-18.

Powell drove the baseline for a layup after corralling an offensive rebound, and Ian Pettiford snagged his own missed shot, and put the ball back through with two seconds left in the opening half. The Wildcats’ ability to find their own missed shots in the first half overcame a 9-for-31 shooting performance over the first two quarters. “When we play them on Friday, the number one thing we have to do on defense is keep Powell and Pettiford off the boards,” Abbott said. “We didn’t do a good job of recognizing that we couldn’t outjump those two for the ball. We were our own worst enemy there.”

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