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STAC BOYS BASKETBALL: OWEGO FALLS TO WAVERLY TO TIGHTEN CENTRAL RACE (2024-02-07)

By TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
OWEGO — The Waverly boys basketball team has been on a roll the past three weeks and on Wednesday evening extended its current win streak to seven games with an impressive 67-41 STAC Central division victory over Owego.

In fact, the Wolverines’ last loss came against the River Hawks on Jan. 17. Since that 67-65 setback, the red and white has knocked off three state-ranked opponents.

Waverly jumped out to a nice lead early, withstood a River Hawk rally in the second quarter, then took control of the game with an 18-point run which spanned the second and third periods.

“All the credit to them,” Owego coach Chris Evans said. “I just thought, our guys, early on, weren't physical enough and didn't attack their guards at the top of the zone well enough.

“I thought, for whatever reason, for the first time this year we kind of allowed them to be the aggressors as opposed to us trying to be a little bit more aggressive.”

Balanced scoring helped the Wolverines build a 22-8 lead in the first quarter as Hogan Shaw put in six points, Joey Tomasso added five points, Jake Benjamin scored four, Xavier Watson drained a 3-pointer and Kalen Keathley hit a pair of free throws. Owego received treys from Ben Rollison and Talan Schumacher, and a basket by Zach Bensley.

The River Hawks regrouped between periods and scored the first seven points of the second quarter as Schumacher canned a trey, and Riley Loomis and Bensley added baskets.

Three-pointers from Joseph Palladino and Rollison closed the gap to 26-21 with 2:24 left in the first half, but Tomasso sandwiched three points between two apiece from Ethan Perry and Jake VanHouten over the final 2:03 to make it a 33-21 cushion heading into intermission.

“We had it down to five points with two minutes to go in the second quarter, and then it ended up being 12 at halftime, which was disappointing,” Evans said. “I just don't think we took care of the ball well.

The Waverly barrage didn’t end with the break, as Tomasso, Shaw, Jay Pipher and VanHouten combined on an 11-0 run to start the second half.

Owego, which saw the Wolverines go 10-for-12 in the first half, experienced more foul trouble in the third quarter as Waverly was 13-for-20 at the stripe.

Riley Loomis fouled out with a little over two minutes remaining in the third period and five other River Hawks were in foul trouble by the end of the quarter.

Waverly hit an 8-point burst to build a 58-29 advantage early in the fourth period.

Schumacher and Kam Wicklund wrapped treys around a pair of Palladino free throws for a brief 8-0 run in the final frame, but never got within 20 points down the stretch.

The Wolverines (13-3) got 10 players involved in the scoring with Tomasso leading the way with 19 points and Shaw adding a dozen more.

Schumacher paced the River Hawks with 12 points, all coming from 3-point range. Rollison added seven, Bensley, Riley and Wicklund scored six apiece, Palladino added three and Danny Tavelli tacked on a free throw.

Owego only made three conventional field goals and had nine 3-pointers, but were still not as accurate as usual from long range.

“We said all year that our season is going to be predicated on whether we make threes or not and we missed a lot of shots, and they weren't all bad shots either. A lot of good threes, open threes, were what we missed,” Evans said.

Owego and Waverly are both 13-3 overall with two division losses each. Seton Catholic has one division setback and visits the River Hawks Friday. An Owego victory creates a three-way tie.

“I have 13 guys who are just like me and they hate to lose more than getting any enjoyment out of a win,” said Evans. “So, back to the drawing board tomorrow and hopefully we can figure a few things out on Thursday before the big game on Friday.”

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IN PHOTO 1: Owego’s Riley Loomis (R). ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.

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