BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
OWEGO - Thursday was Kobe Bogart's night as the Owego senior forward would eclipse 1,000 career points as the Indians battled past Corning, 67-57, in STAC action here.
Bogart needed one point reach the milestone and it didn't take him long to get it. He hit a close-range baseline shot to give Owego a 4-2 lead early in the game and ignite a 6-point burst. Even though he finished with a game-high 28 points, the Hawks did everything they could to try and spoil the evening.
Corning refused to go away after trailing 24-12 late in the first quarter. Three-pointers from Justin Rodriquez, Jackson Casey, Noah Walker and Blake VanWoert, and six points by Jordan Haggard pulled the Hawks into a 37-37 deadlock at halftime.
However, Owego would regroup in the locker room.
"We actually changed defenses in the second half," Owego head coach Chris Evans said. "We went to a 1-3-1 the beginning of the second half and got some steals out of it and some run-outs."
Christian Sage, who would pump out 24 points on the night to bolster the offense, scored the first basket of the second half. Bogart hit a short jumper and followed that bucket with back-to-back threes, giving the Indians a 47-37 advantage. Sage contributed another basket midway through the period to complete a 10-0 run. Sage pushed the lead to 52-40 with a trey at 3:10, but Haggard and Walker closed out the period with consecutive buckets
"Sage and Kobe did their thing, but I thought defensively, Evan Hamed and Robert Merrill were just absolutely tremendous defensively, and Isaiah Bishop did a great on the boards, and other people were playing. I thought defensively they were tremendous. And Merrill was everywhere, on the steals, and just going as hard as he can down the court, finishing above the rim. I thought he was great."
Corning closed the gap to six points on baskets from Haggard and Rodriquez, and trailed 58-52 with 3:15 to play.
As the game dipped into its final three minutes, Sage hit a free throw and Merrill followed with a steal and layup to push the lead to 61-52. The Hawks responded with a field goal from Lucas Rossington, but Owego retaliated with six straight points as Merrill sandwiched a nifty assist between a pair of Sage baskets. Merrill ran down a long pass on a fast break, leaping across the end line and swatting the ball back to Bogart for an easy bucket. the 6-0 spurt pushed the lead to 67-54 and locked up the win.
"They shot the ball much better in the first half," Evans said. "They made some threes, so we weren't sure about playing them man-to-man the whole second half, so we switched up and did some others things zone-wise, which I think made the difference at the end of the day."
Haggard, who led Corning with 20 points, dropped in a meaningless three in the final seconds, his second of the game and the Hawks' eighth of the night.
Owego finished with six treys, four by Bogart. Merrill contributed one three and eight points to the win, Mike Wasyln added four points and Hamed had a 3-pointer. Sage had the team's other trey.
Bogart scored seven points, and Merrill and Wasyln had four apiece as Owego ran out to a 24-15 first-quarter lead, but Corning made half its 3-pointers in the second period to outscore the Indians, 22-13.
The victory pushed the 20th-ranked Indians' overall record to 9-2, but Evans knows there is still room for improvement.
"I still think we're not quite where we are supposed to be offensively, and I hope by early February we're there," he said.
As for Bogart, Evans was glad to see him put the milestone behind him early in the contest, and heaped praise on the him for his contributions to the program.
"He's had a tremendous career, he really has. And he's done it the right way. He's always in school. He's always in class. He's always worked hard in the classroom. He's a great kid. He doesn't gloat. He doesn't show other people up. He's helping people up off the ground. He's just a good, solid character and that's more important than anything."
Owego visits Binghamton Monday.
IN PHOTO 1: Owego's Kobe Bogart sets up to surpass 1,000 career points. ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.
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