State rankings at this time of the year mean little to coaches. We’re not even one-third of the way through a 2 1/2-month season, and most mentors will point out the most important ranking is the last one when all the games are completed. Still talking up the rankings makes for good watercooler fodder, and the ranking demonstrates that pundits in my line of work appreciate what a team has done through the first three weeks of the season. As of last week, Norwich’s boys basketball team was ranked number 12 in the Class B poll, while Bainbridge-Guilford’s lads are number 14 among Class C schools. Both clubs recently improved to 5-0 on the season, the best basketball records of any team we cover in Chenango County. In reaching it’s 5-0 mark, Norwich is allowing less than 40 points per game. Head coach Tom Collier will be the first to say he hasn’t beaten a murderer’s row of opponents, but holding teams to 37.8 points per game — with a 30-second shot clock and an inviting three-point line – is impressive. In those five games, Norwich is scoring 55 points per game, or about 5 1/2 points less per game than last year’s Class B sectional champion. In the end, does it really matter how many you score as long as it is more than the opponent?
Over at Bainbridge-Guilford, the club is guided by B-G alum Greg Warren. Warren returned to the school district about five years ago to assume the director of athletics position. Last year he took over for Ben Nelson as head basketball coach, and the momentum last year’s club had in the second half of last year has carried over to this year. The Bobcats started 2-4, but finished 11-7 in the regular season before losing its first-round sectional playoff game. B-G’s best record over the past 17 years was a 17-5 mark during the 2003-2004 season, and that winning percentage may be eclipsed. How is this year’s B-G club getting the job done? Offensive and defensive balance. The Bobcats have four players scoring in double figures – Corbin Palmer, Austin Bauerle, Brooks Harmon, and Lucas Butcher. Bauerle leads the team in rebounding, but everyone contributes to the rebounding numbers. Warren is typically low-key and understated in his post-game comments, and his team is flying under the radar – so far. Friday, we’ll see where the Bobcats stack up in the Midstate Athletic Conference when they host last year’s league champion, Unatego.
A few years ago I was researching Chenango County’s all-time basketball scoring leaders. Studying the men, I came across Sherburne-Earlville’s Bob White, who amassed over 1,600 points in three varsity seasons for the Marauders. White’s junior season was particularly impressive as he maintained a 30 points per game average over 20-plus games. A jump shooter with incredible range, White had the green light to shoot once he crossed halfcourt. It’s impossible to calculate what he may have averaged with the benefit of the three-point line, but our guess is that you could probably raise his career points by at least 25 to 30 percent. I was reminded of White after looking at this year’s early-season scoring leaders. Oxford senior Andrew Golden is off to the fastest start we’ve seen in two decades. Through four games, Golden is averaging 28.5 points per game. If that holds, it would be the second highest single season scoring average since White’s 30.0 average 40 years ago. As a measure of comparison, the area’s second leading scorer this year, Dan Treadwell of Greene, is putting up 17.0 per game, or nearly a dozen less per game than Golden.
Back to Collier, who was able to find some humor following Tuesday’s win over Windsor. Collier had an 11-man roster at the end of last week. That number dwindled to six, temporarily, after a series of unfortunate events. In one fell swoop, Collier lost one player to eligibility, three to injury, and another fell ill on the bus ride home from Windsor. Collier expects one or two of those kids back for Friday’s game at Johnson City, and has added some junior varsity players to the roster to give him at least 10 for practices. Regarding the injuries: “I knew I was in trouble after the Windsor game when I went to fill out the accident report sheets, and I had to make extra copies because I didn’t have enough,” the NHS coach said.
Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat