NORWICH – Towards the end of the first quarter, the Susquehanna Valley Sabers took a one point lead over the Norwich Purple Tornado and held onto the advantage into the start of the second Thursday night. Turning the tables in the second quarter with a 2:30 run is what set up the 71-64 Southern Tier Athletic Conference divisional victory for the Purple Tornado.
Norwich’s Carson Maynard started off slow but found his flow during that two and half minute run, scoring six points as he attacked the rim. Maynard finished with a game-high 25 points, 10 coming from a perfect shooting performance at the free throw line.
“That was a big win for us,” said the Tornado’s head coach Tom Collier. “Sus Valley has won six out of their last seven games and was coming off winning a tourney in Syracuse. Our game plan was to control their top scorer Jarred Freije. He’s a beast on the boards and inside and we held him to 12.”
The Sabers and the Tornado went back and forth during the first quarter of play with Sus Valley coming out with the one point lead after the opening eight minute of play.
Just two minutes into the second quarter, and the Sabers holding a 17-16 lead, Norwich went on an 8-3 run to pull ahead 24-19 behind a mix of Maynard’s offensive attack at the rim and the shut down defense by the Purple Tornado at the other end.
Rotating the duty of stopping Freije between four Norwich defenders came down to Marcus Cashman, J.T. Vinal, Drew Walsh and Jahlil Jones. “I thought what we did wore him down at the end,” continued Collier.
While the four were switching roles on the coverage of Sus Valley’s leading scoring, Collier was changing the defense to catch the opposing team off balance.
It paid off as each time the Sabers started to figure out what the Tornado were doing on defense, a new defense threw a wrench into the plans and stopping any potential run by the visiting team.
With his big impact coming in around the rim, the Sabers didn’t have an answer for Norwich’s center Skylar Wenzel. Wenzel’s play underneath kept the home team in the game during the early minutes.
Wenzel finished the game with 16 points in just 17 minutes of play. Providing big minutes off the bench when he was off the floor were Jon Clarke and Jones.
“We are starting to understand that if you sacrifice the me for the we, then we will be a tough team to beat,” said Collier. “We are getting key minutes from our bench players and everyone is starting to understand their role. We got great team contributions from everyone.”..