BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
OWEGO - It took some time to really get things clicking, but once Owego found its groove the Indians ran away from Norwich to record a 60-41 Section IV Class B semifinal victory here Thursday night.
The first 3:25 of the third quarter went by without a point being scored and Owego didn't put a ball through the hoop until there was 4:15 remaining on the clock. That's when Isaiah Bishop fed Kobe Bogart underneath for an easy basket and a 29-22 lead.
Still, it would be another 1:15 before another point was scored. Bogart connected on a 3-pointer at the 3-minute mark, but the Purple Tornado's Thomas Flanagan responded with a trey of his own 17 seconds later. That's as close was Norwich would get for the remainder of the night.
With the win, Owego extended its home court win streak to 19 games and earned a return trip to the championship game.
"... it starts with defense," Owego head coach Chris Evans said. "I thought our defense was absolutely fantastic. I thought both teams played really, really tough defense.
"I told Tom (Norwich coach Collier) before, because they are so well-coached, I told him it's going to come down to who makes some shots because both teams are very good defensively. We were fortunate to make some shots."
The Indians made some when it counted. They closed out the third quarter with a 10-0 burst. Bogart started it with a pair of free throws, then nailed back-to-back treys following a Christian Sage basket to push the home team's advantage to 42-25 heading into the final period.
Sage would tack on three more points, hitting a free free following his steal and layup to cap off a traditional 3-point play. Skylar Wenzel would break the streak with a basket with 6:38 to go, but Bogart drained one from beyond the arc at 5:27 and Sage added another 3-point play to push the margin past 20 points at 51-30.
Norwich would cut the lead to 51-35 over the next two minutes on a handful of foul shots, but any chance of a miracle comeback was squashed when Owego's Evan Hamed put three consecutive treys through the hoop in a span of 48 seconds. That would give the Indians a 60-37 cushion with 1:25 left in the game. It would also give Hamed seven threes on the night, just two shy of the school record.
"It's a confidence game," Evans said. "You watch any college game, and to some extent NBA games ... it's a game of runs. And all of the sudden the basket looks big and kids are starting to feeling good about shooting the ball. That's any level."
Hamed opened the game with a trey then, after the Tornado rallied for a 4-3 edge, Hamed drained another three. This one, with 5:16 left in the first quarter, gave Owego a 6-4 lead, sparked a 9-point run and the Indians would never trail again.
"When we're playing teams like that so much attention is going to be paid to Kobe and Christian," Evans said. "Sometimes they have to be unselfish passers, which makes it so much better. Obviously, Evan was making shots and some other guys made great plays."
Bogart added four points and Sage three, making it 13-7 heading into the second period.
Norwich would cut the gap to three on a trio of occasions in the second, the last at 18-15, but a Hamed three with 3:39 left in the half sparked a 9-3 spurt for a 27-18 advantage and Owego would lead at the break, 27-20.
Hamed would lead all scorers with 21 points, Bogart added three threes and finished with 19 points and Sage contributed 11 points. Rob Merrill pitched in with four points, Mike Wasyln and Brendan Evans scored two apiece, and Bishop added one.
The Indians (17-3) will face Seton Catholic in the championship game Saturday evening at Floyd L. Maines Arena in Binghamton at 7 p.m.
IN PHOTO 1: Owego's Christian Sage. ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.
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