Tioga County Sports Report
OWEGO - Christian Sage knocked down some big 3-pointers to guide Owego to a 60-55 STAC Metro victory over M-E here Friday night.
Sage, who hit five threes on the night, put Owego up for good when he swished one from beyond the arc with 1:49 remaining in the third quarter, giving the Indians a 43-41 edge. Evan Hamed popped in a trey 28 seconds later and M-E's Joe Mancini countered with a three to keep it a 3-point game heading into the final minute. However, Sage came through with another trey with 24 ticks on the clock to push the Owego lead to 49-44.
Things could have gone awry when Owego's leading scorer, Kobe Bogart, headed to the bench with his fourth foul with seven seconds left in the third period. Instead, the Indians turned M-E away.
Sage hit back-to-back threes with 6:15 and 5:33 left in the game to push the Owego advantage to 55-46, then faked out a pair of defenders underneath the hoop for a basket and a 57-48 lead with with 3:43 to go.
Also key was the Owego defense, which held M-E to 21 second-half points.
"I told the guys ... defensively, I thought we played so hard," Owego head coach Chris Evans said. "But at the end of the day you've got to make shots. It's a shot maker's game as we talked about, and Sage made some big threes. He was a little off from about 12 feet, but from about 25 feet he was making them. He made some really, really big shots and it's fun to watch."
The Spartans' Connor Green hit a 3-pointer at 2:51 and, following an over-and-back violation against the Indians, Jack McFadden converted a traditional 3-point play, cutting the Owego advantage to 57-54 with 1:43 on the clock.
The foul on that play was assessed to Bogart, ending his night, and once again the Indians would have to buckle down.
"Kobe did great and then he fouls out and we have to have other guys step up and rebound and play defense and kind of move the ball," Evans said. "That 1-3-1 is so difficult to navigate and they're so well-coached. That's a tough defense to play against, but we kind of figured it out after a while. A little bit more quick ball reversal, and then we were able to attack off the back, but it still takes us a while to figure that out.
"And not having practice for three straight days."
A McFadden free throw at 59.5 seconds made it 57-55, and the Spartans would attempt a long-range shot with 18.1 seconds to go. Mike Wasyln got the rebound and was fouled. He would hit both free throw attempts to push the home team's led to 59-55.
"We missed two front ends of one-and-ones before that and then Was made two clutch free throws there, which is great; as a junior, which is really great for him to step up," said Evans.
Green missed a jumper under heavy pressure with eight seconds left and the ball went out of bounds off an M-E player, then Sage converted the front end of a one-and-one with fives seconds remaining to make it 60-55.
Owego trailed 11-9 after the first quarter and 34-28 at halftime. The Indians fell behind by as much as 11 in the first half, but Sage got hot after the break and scored 19 of his game-high 26 points in the second half.
It was a big win for the Indians, who watched a 9-point lead slip away in the fourth quarter of a 57-55 loss to the Spartans 23 days earlier.
Bogart was having another strong night before running into foul trouble. He canned a trey in each of the first two quarters and went 7-for-7 at the free throw line. He scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half. Still, the Indians were able to pull it together and pick up the slack and Bogart was on the sidelines offering encouragement.
"It says a lot about our kids. They have a lot of confidence in themselves," Evans said. "Kobe was our biggest cheerleader and it says a lot about his character. He's over here and it's all about winning. He does not care. He could score zero points and get zero rebounds. As long as we win he's a happy guy and that says a lot about his character."
Hamed canned three threes, two coming in Owego's 21-10 third-quarter barrage. He ended the game with nine points. Wasyln added six points and Rob Merrill chipped in with four more.
McFadden paced M-E with 20 points. Mike Mancini had 12 and AJ Desantis had 10 before going out with an injury in th e hird quarter.
Owego (14-2) visits Vestal Monday.
IN PHOTO 1: Owego's Mike Wasyln. ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.
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