A deep, talented and highly seasoned Maine-Endwell girls squad stands 13-1 with two regular-season games remaining, and on Friday dealt Vestal a 51-37 setback. That evened the squads at a win apiece — with a possible Section 4 tournament game looming.
This M-E cast is made up primarily of girls who played prominent roles a winter ago, when the Spartans closed a 17-5 season with a loss to Troy in the Class A state championship game.
Sonny Spera, M-E’s nine-season varsity coach, was asked to compare the present squad to last season’s.
“That’s hard to do,” he said. “I think there are a lot of similarities, eight or nine or 10 players can give you something at any point. So it’s nice to have extra players contributing key minutes, key stops on defense, key rebounds, key shots, key passes.”
As for what this team does better than the 2012-13 group: “I don’t know. Some nights we shoot it better but some nights we don’t.
“We have to compete every night. Every team we play is bigger and stronger, generally speaking, and we have to compete with them. We give up height but we can’t give up ground.”
Said Spartans senior Julie Yacovoni, an all-tournament selection last March in Troy: “I think we’re close (to last year’s team). We lost only one senior so it’s almost like a continuation, adding a couple new players. We’ve been able to keep improving through the season and I think that we have a chance to be even better than last year.”
On Friday night, M-E and Vestal were separated by a point at halftime before the Spartans gained control with 15-6 command of the third quarter. When the teams met in December, the Golden Bears posted a six-point win.
“I think we’re both really athletic teams and we both like a fast pace, and we’re both good defensively,” Yacovoni said. ” It’s fun playing these kinds of games because you get to see who will step up and what’s going to happen in a close game. It’s easier to play your best against this kind of competition.”
No stopping Kro
In the wake of his team’s 68-59 loss at Union-Endicott, Binghamton boys coach David Springer asked, “How many points did (C.J.) Krowiak have?”
“Twenty-five,” he was told.
“Jeepers Christmas!” replied Springer, whose Patriots limited U-E’s senior guard to six in the first half.
In terms of a point total, Springer was asked, what would he consider a defensive success against Krowiak: “Not 25. How many foul shots did he make? (3-for-4) … That’s a positive.
“The key, I think, is you’ve get to try to get him to make outside shots, but he’s just hard to stop. No. 1, he’s just so fast and strong. You try to take away the left hand — you can’t. Plus he’s a lefty. People aren’t used to lefties.”
A 27.6 average scorer going into Monday night’s game against Corning, Krowiak was not only more successful in the second half against Binghamton but appeared to be more assertive.
“In the first half my shots weren’t falling but Joey (Orlando) was stepping up big, other players were stepping up. In the second half, I felt I had to attack more and that’s what I did,” he said.
More than basketball
Norwich made it 14-0 with a one-sided victory last week at Owego, and then 15-0 by rolling over Chenango Forks. The Purple Tornado’s approach to the game?
“What we do is play every possession as if it’s our last,” coach Tom Collier said. “We take it one day at a time, one step at a time. And when you play like that with the way we play, you’re going to be successful.”
“We treat everything too as a life lesson. We talk about when we get done here and they go to school or go to jobs — with your employer, you give him everything you’ve got every day. This isn’t just basketball, this is life lessons. That’s part of sports, you use that for discipline … “
Among the most valuable contributors to the team’s success has been Michael Oralls, whose value extends far beyond a 10.2-per-game scoring average that is No. 2 on the team.
“He’s Rambo, man. He does the assignment, he gets it done,” Collier said. “Michael’s a great post presence and he’s a great defender. He’s physical, uses his body so well and has great body control. … He’s a running back and what’d he rush for, 1,300 yards? He uses his football skills. People don’t think he’s a really good basketball player, but Michael is a very good basketball player.
“And he’s the nicest kid, never trash talks, if he knocks you over he picks you up. He’s a great kid.” …
Despite back-to-back losses to Norwich and Susquehanna Valley, Owego remains in the thick of the chase for a STAC playoff berth.
“These boys have come a long way,” Indians coach Bryan Hathaway said. “These boys told me that, that banner up there? They want their year on it. Well, let’s look at it, how can we do that? Division champs? STAC or Section?”
‘Jackets have Blue Devil of a time
Chenango Valley’s girls appear to save some of their best for games against Oneonta.
The Yellowjackets trailed host CV in the fourth quarter last week before pulling out a 55-51 win, improving to 13-1 overall and 10-0 in conference play. It was the second time this season the Warriors led Oneonta in the final quarter.
‘Jackets guard Mariah Ruff had five 3-point goals in a 20-point outing and added eight assists Friday at CV, and teammate Brittney Herrick had 12 points and nine rebounds.