Feb 03, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Whatever else takes place the rest of this season, the Oneida boys basketball team can walk a bit taller, knowing it had taken out its biggest rival.
Going right into the “Pit” of Vernon-Verona-Sherrill last Saturday night, the Indians negated the Red Devils’ vaunted defense with a dream night of shooting from the floor that led to a sweet 65-55 victory.
It didn’t matter that VVS was 14-2, or that it had a major size advantage, or that it had easily handled the Indians in their first meeting in Oneida on Jan. 8 — which was VVS head coach Al Knapp’s 500th career win.
All that mattered here was that the Indians started making shots early — and never stopped.
The home crowd got quiet as Oneida raced to a 19-11 first-quarter edge, only to make plenty of noise again as good work in the paint allowed VVS to shrink the margin to 29-27 at the break.
Somewhere, the Red Devils waited for the Indians to cool off. But it never happened, as open shots kept falling and Oneida built up its lead again in the second half.
All told, the Indians took 36 shots and made 24 of them, an astonishing 67 percent. And to finish off this near-perfect evening, Justin Didio hit all six of his free throws in the final minutes, preventing any possible Red Devils comeback.
Ryan Kramer didn’t need to carry the whole load, either, though he led Oneida with 16 points. David Cieri stepped up for a season-best 14 points, as Joe McCormick earned 13 points. Most of Didio’s eight points came from those clutch foul shots as Blake Cavanaugh earned six points and Nick Dreimiller got five points.
To counter all this, VVS had Zack Jensen pour in 19 points and Derek Smith add 17 points. However, aside from Jensen, Smith and Adam Kemp (eight points), the Red Devils had just one field goal, far less balance and depth than Oneida had showed.
By far, the biggest thing Oneida’s defense accomplished was rendering Evan Croll ineffective. Croll, VVS’s top offensive threat for most of the season, never made a field goal all night, his five points coming only from successful free throws.
Prior to this, each team had played Tuesday night — the Red Devils beating Clinton 69-52, the Indians falling to New Hartford 69-59.
VVS took care of things in Clinton, newly charged after its win at Utica-Notre Dame on Jan. 25. The Red Devils unleashed a lot of offense in the first half, gradually wearing down Clinton’s resistance as it used a 21-8 spurt through the second quarter to build a 44-28 halftime advantage.
From there, the Warriors made a brief push in the second half, but just didn’t have enough firepower to make it all the way back.
Smith, with 22 points, continued to have a strong late push as Croll earned 17 points and Jensen gained 13 points. Justin Grimm (seven points) and Kemp (six points) helped out, too, as Brett Fuller (11 points) led Clinton’s push.
Oneida went to New Hartford and paid a price for a slow start against the defending Section III Class A champions. Before Oneida’s defense could settle down, the Spartans owned a 19-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
For the rest of the night, the Indians were able to match offensive spurts with New Hartford, but never could cut into its deficit, either.
Kramer again assumed the star’s role, leading both sides with 24 points. Otherwise, Dreimiller had 11 points, as McCormick got seven points and Dale Ano six points.
By contrast, four New Hartford players reached double figures. Mike Kelly led with 22 points, to go with six assists and four steals, as Andrew Steates (14 points), Andy Roemer (11 points) and Reggie German (10 points) all produced well.
Wild winter weather took out Oneida’s game with Whitesboro on Friday, along with a VVS tilt with Camden. Both would get made up this week as the Indians (8-9) also played at Holland Patent and the Red Devils (14-3) had a chance to avenge its Jan. 3 defeat to Whitesboro.