A couple of episodes during the Oneida boys basketball team's 61-54 victory at Vernon-Verona-Sherill's "Pit" last Saturday night illustrates the kind of toughness and winning mentality Ryan Kramer brings to the Indians' side.
Early in the second quarter, Kramer's 3-pointer sailed way over the net, an air ball, and the VVS students let him know about it. Seconds later, Kramer took another shot from beyond the arc -- and swished it.
And when the Red Devils threatened in the fourth quarter, Kramer calmly took the ball and scored on three consecutive Oneida possessions, giving the visitors the cushion it would need to prevail in its most intense rivalry.
To some degree, Kramer was the reason they were playing late in December. Oneida and VVS were originally set to square off Dec. 5, but the game got moved back two weeks due to the Indians' football run to the state Class B finals, which didn't end until Nov. 30 -- and where Kramer served as quarterback and team captain.
By the time they got together, VVS was 7-1, sparkling on the defensive side and leaning on Evan Croll's formidable scoring skills on the offensive side. Yet from the start of this latest chapter with Oneida, the Red Devils were in trouble.
VVS didn't score until midway through the first quarter, a drought of nearly four minutes. It didn't let the Indians get away, thanks to slowing the game's tempo down, but it would not have a single lead all night, either.
With Kramer getting 12 first-half points, Oneida's lead grew as large as 13 in the second quarter, and it went to halftime 28-20, the Red Devils fortunate to keep it that tight.
Almost by himself, Croll ignited the Red Devils' push in the third quarter, scoring 12 points in that frame alone and cutting the deficit to two, 28-26, early in the period before Oneida regained command.