NORWICH – The Norwich Purple Tornado overcame a 10 point deficit at halftime by out scoring the Yellowjackets of Oneonta 34-20 in the second half to win 58-54 at home on Wednesday night.
Norwich’s J.T. Vinal paced the offense with 22 points for the game and the stiff man-to-man defense by the Tornado were the key factors in the victory over long time rival Oneonta.
The Yellowjackets had a chance on the offensive end with 8.6 left but during the play, Graham Wooden’s feet got tangled up with his teammate Teddy McGraw, who was setting a screen for him on the inbounds play. Norwich’s Marcus Cashman picked up the loose ball and finished at the rim to secure the four point win for the Tornado.
The opening quarter saw Norwich take a 16-10 lead after both teams struggled to put the ball in the basket for the first five minutes. Once both teams settled in, shots were falling like rain.
In the second, the Yellowjackets took advantage of the Tornado’s help defense by making the extra pass, finding the open teammate to knock down the shot. During the eight minutes of play, Oneonta went on a 24-8 run with half of the team’s points coming from behind the 3-point arc.
With only two points in the first, Wooden of the Yellowjackets came alive in the second. Dropping 12 points in the quarter, Wooden was also getting it done by driving to the hoop with either a finish and the foul or the kickout to a teammate waiting on the wings. His presence in the stanza pushed Oneonta to a 10 point lead heading into the break.
Out of the intermission, Norwich knew they needs a trigger to get back into the ball game. That spark was Vinal. Making an impact immediately in the third, Vinal came away with a steal and took ball the length of the floor for the layup.
Vinal’s high energy began to spread to his teammates and the Purple Tornado’s defense kicked it up several knotches, forcing several turnovers for Oneonta and converting on the other end.
“JT is our glue guy on this roster, “ said head coach Tom Collier of the Purple Tornado. “He plays a lot like Dennis Rodman and the thing he does on a basketball court can’t always be measured on a statsheet. He’s the heart and soul of our team, always has been.”
Another key to the quarter was the rebounding of Skylar Wenzel. The 6-8 center, who was in foul trouble in the first half, grabbed the ball off the board time after time and with his size advantage over the Yellowjackets, Norwich was able to limit Oneonta to many one-and-done possessions.
The Tornado climbed their way back into the game by the end of the third, tying the contest at 45-45.
In for a battle in the final quarter, the two teams went back and forth, exchanging nearly basket for basket.
Norwich saw three key 3-pointers fall in the stanza, the first by Thomas Flanagan who came in off the bench and played some key minutes in the game.
Another big three came from the team’s 3-point leader, Marcus Cashman. Being held in check for the majority of the game by the tight defense of Oneonta’s Teddy McGraw, Cashman was able to get a clean look from the top of the key and knocked down the big shot.
Carson Maynard’s 3-point swish from the right side wing stung the Yellowjackets, providing the late game lead for the Tornado...