Both the Oneida and Vernon Verona Sherrill boys basketball team are set for another season-long duel in the Tri-Valley League's West division.
As defending league champions, the Indians got off to the right start following its third-place finish at the Norwich Tournament, winning its league and home opener last Tuesday night in a 61-46 decision over Clinton.
For a half, the Warriors matched everything Oneida produced, and even led 29-27 at the break. All that changed, though, as the Indians' defense suffocated Clinton in the third quarter, holding it to five points.
Fired up by that defense, the Indians bolted out to a 45-34 lead and never got caught. Matt Tamburro led with 16 points, with Benn DeRocker adding 15 points and Trey Didio earning 11 points. Keith Johnson had seven points. Clinton featured three players in double figures -- Steve Bankert (16 points), Jon Antonsson (14 points) and Rich Maxam (12 points).
For VVS and its long-time coach, Al Knapp, the challenge is more direct. Repeating last year's 16-6 mark (three of the losses were to Oneida, including the Section III quarterfinals) requires the Red Devils to find replacements to stars like Evan Croll, Adam Kemp and Joe Barbano.
So with a lot of new faces in the lineup, the Red Devils opened its season last Tuesday at New Hartford -- and took a 66-51 loss to the Spartans.
Though VVS led 12-10 after one period, New Hartford took charge in the middle stages, doubling the Red Devils' output 42-21 in the second and third periods to take charge.
In defeat, Isaac Pitman had 13 points, with Simon Pitman adding 11 points. Mitch Iseneker (seven points) and Nash Robb (six points) provided the help. New Hartford had Ben Zalewski earn 18 points and Derek German add 16 points.
On Friday, it was Oneida's turn against New Hartford -- and by playing close to perfection down the stretch, the Indians beat the Spartans 75-67.