Yet another busy night of basketball in the Tri-Valley League saw the Oneida and Vernon Verona Sherrill basketball teams battle hard for wins.
However, only the Oneida boys team proved successful, improving its record to 5-2 by riding Benn DeRocker's fine play in the homestretch to a 52-48 victory over Whitesboro.
The Warriors came into the game with a 4-1 mark, and since the opponents had similar records, it only seemed to fit that the two sides would stay close to each other throughout the night.
Oneida forward Andrew Hornyak made some early baskets and put Oneida in front, but Whitesboro rallied to seize a 13-11 lead at th end of the first period.
In the second quarter, as the rest of his team slumped, Matt Tamburro kept the Indians close with 10 points in that frame, so Oneida only trailed 24-23 at the break.
Whitesboro tried to get clear, building its margin to 29-23 before the Indians used a 12-4 run to briefly pull out in front late in the period. But the Warriors struck right back, regaining the lead early in the final period to spark another tense exchange.
Then, with Oneida down 42-41, DeRocker took over. He used a behind-the-back dribble to free himself for a 3-pointer with three minutes left, pushing the Indians ahead for good, then hit on back-to-back baskets to make it 48-42. Try as it could, the Warriors would not catch up.
Tamburro led with 16 points, with DeRocker getting most of his 13 points in that decisive burst. Hornyak also had 13 points. Whitesboro's Mike Ryan led both sides with 18 points.
Meanwhile, Vernon Verona Sherrill's rough December continued at the expense of state-ranked Utica-Notre Dame, who moved to 5-0 in league play (6-1 overall) by beating the Red Devils 78-51.
What was a close game broke open in the second quarter, when the Jugglers used a 25-7 burst to get clear. Overall, UND outscored VVS 46-18 in those middle periods, with Colgate University-bound Pat Moore the catalyst as he finished with 30 points.