NORWICH – The colloquial term for a game such as the one played Wednesday night at Jack Jones Gymnasium is “slobberknocker.”
Norwich flexed its collective muscles in the second half after getting pushed around for two quarters by Horseheads eking out a 44-43 victory to advance to Friday’s Southern Tier Athletic Conference championship game. Norwich will clash with Binghamton Friday night at Union-Endicott High School for the opportunity to repeat as league champions.
“That was two teams that wanted it badly,” said Norwich coach Tom Collier. “Anyone that was at this game tonight will remember it for the rest of their lives.”
Norwich led twice in the first quarter, but was playing catchup most of the game. It took nearly all of the remaining three quarters to do it, but the Purple Tornado finally lassoed the Blue Raiders.
Entering the fourth quarter in a six-point shortfall, 32-26, Norwich nibbled away at Horseheads’ advantage in minute bites, much like Tim Robbins’ lead character chipped away to his escape in “The Shawshank Redemption.”
Ben Clark provided some early resistance to Norwich’s challenge hitting a three for Horseheads to start the fourth, then Clark buried a baseline jumper to counter and Mike Oralls deuce for Norwich.
Over the last seven minutes, though, Horseheads was limited to two buckets and a pair of free throws.
Oralls was integral to the fourth-quarter turnaround. After a free throw by Oralls made it 39-34, Oralls tipped in a Carlos Ithier miss after a Horseheads turnover cutting the margin to 39-36.