Norwich 'defends' Pennysaver crown

NORWICH – Great defense never goes into a slump.

Norwich coach Josh Bennett knows his team will have nights where the shots won’t fall, but he is confident that his team will not falter on the other end of the court.

The Tornado rode their defense to a third straight championship in the 31st Annual Norwich Pennysaver Tournament toppling Greene, 47-30, in the title game Saturday evening at Jack Jones Gymnasium.

Norwich harassed the Trojans into 28 turnovers, 11 of those in the final quarter when reserves were seeing most of the time on the floor, and the game’s outcome was no longer in doubt.

“I think that defense will be the staple of this group,” Bennett said. “We’ll make shots and miss shots, but we have such an athletic group that really knows what we’re trying to do on defense. We also have a lot of balance. When we bring kids off the bench, we don’t lose anything defensively, and we can still maintain that same level of pressure and aggressiveness.”

It was still anyone’s ballgame midway through the third quarter. Norwich clung to a 17-16 halftime lead, and had a difficult time shaking the Trojans (1-1). Norwich took a 22-18 lead early in the third when Jenni Borfitz dished to Hailey Dietrich for a layup.

Greene answered with four straight points of its own. Shannon Gregory made one free throw, and junior guard Kaitlin Gorton ran off a screen, and stroked a three-pointer that hit the bullseye tying the game at 22-22 with 4:06 left in the stanza.

Norwich mounted its best stretch of offense over the remaining portion of the quarter, and finished the final 3:44 of the quarter on an 11-4 spurt.

Cassie Sutton spotted up for a 17-foot baseline jumper, again off the penetration and feed from Borfitz to vault Norwich in front for good. Tournament MVP Bryn Loomis cashed in on a three-pointer, this time with help from Dietrich, who corralled an offensive rebound to keep the ball in Norwich’s end. Breanna Cashman, Dietrich, and Loomis finished off the quarter with hoops, with Loomis’ decisions with the basketball swinging the balance of the game.

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