Red Devils recover, rip Utica-Notre Dame

If there's ever a good time to get beat, the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill boys basketball team sure found it.

Embarrassed by its second-half meltdown against New Hartford on Jan. 18, the Red Devils got a full week to flush that defeat out of its system and return to the basic ideas -- strong defense, timely scoring, lots of toughness -- that produced 13 wins in the team's first 14 games.

Settled again, VVS ventured to Utica-Notre Dame last Friday night, took charge in the second quarter and never let go until it had produced a 60-46 victory over the Jugglers.

UND, a young club "rebuilding" by its normally high standards, were coming off a second-place finish in its own Juggler Classic and were bent on keeping VVS cold.

At least in the first quarter, the plan worked, as the Red Devils started fast but watched UND reel off a 10-2 run to turn it around and claim a 12-10 edge.

From there, though, VVS started to take over. It opened the second period with a 7-0 run and closed it on a big Derek Smith 3-pointer, all of which translated into a 26-18 halftime advantage.

All through this, the Red Devils' man-to-man defense physically overwhelmed the smaller UND lineup and dominated on the boards. Combined, Pat Moore, Jerrell Hunter and Matt Petrone, the Jugglers' top three scorers, made just six of the 32 shots they attempted.

By opening the second half with an 11-1 spurt, VVS all but settled the outcome, so frustrating the Jugglers that it drew a pair of technical fouls and the margin grew to 22 by the fourth quarter. A sloppy finish produced a brief UND spurt, but it never really got close.

Smith, with 19 points, led a deep attack where point guard Evan Croll got 12 points and Zack Jensen and Adam Kemp earned 11 points apiece. Will Hawkins led the Jugglers with 11 points.

Following games with Clinton and Camden this week, VVS will host it biggest rival, Oneida, on Saturday in a game made up from a Dec. 4 snow postponement.

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