Sports Editor’s Playbook, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011

Patrick Newell

– If I had any personal ties to Norwich basketball, I would have likely lost a few hairs or seen some more gray amongst my bushy tresses. Friday night, the Tornado girls were in a seesaw battle with Owego, and the change of leads was like a tennis rally with each team using its volley to hit a clutch shot or drain a pivotal free throw. At last, Norwich fashioned a defensive stop in the final 10 seconds, and sealed the win with free throws.
Tonight, I was back at Norwich High School, and this time I actually had a view from the home side of the court. (Friday night, the bleachers were so packed in Jack Jones Gymnasium, that the only available space was amongst the Owego fans). Sitting two rows behind the Norwich bench, I watched Norwich coach Mark Abbott run his hands through his hair, while also witnessing several new looks of consternation from the NHS mentor for which I was not familiar. To be bluntly honest, Norwich’s offensive performance the first three quarters was the worst for my alma mater dating back to my rookie year with the paper in 1995. Norwich had 25 turnovers over the first three quarters and 27 points. Twenty-five turnovers in a game is not completely out of the realm of possibility, but for a team that came into the game with a 12-1 record, it seems difficult to fathom.
As you will read in Monday’s edition, Norwich made up for 24 minutes of lousy basketball with 12 minutes of pretty typical NHS hoops. The Norwich win also proves the point that basketball games are not won or lost in 24 minutes.

– I had to drop in a forthcoming quote in from Oxford wrestling coach Craig Tefft, who I spoke to Friday night after a dual meet tournament loss to Waverly. Mr. Tefft has presided over the Blackhawks’ program for five seasons, and until this year, the team gave up way too many forfeits to ever be competitive in dual meets. After seeing miniscule numbers out for the team for years, Oxford was rejuvenated this season winning 10 meets to earn a place in the Section IV dual meet tournament. This year’s Blackhawks have two outgoing seniors, Devin Depew and Clayton Audette. Both have proven stable influences on a young team this season, and each has had the fortitude and dedication to stick with a team that had no chance of winning anything until this year. “Those two have been the backbone of our program the last five years, and have held the team together when we had low numbers,” Tefft said. “It’s kind of sad. The numbers are picking up for us, and those two will no longer be with the program after this season.”

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