GROTON – Groton Central boys feasted on the spoils of winning their Gobbler Basketball Tournament Saturday after a great defensive effort led the Indians to a 57-49 victory over Interscholastic Athletic Conference North Small School Division rival Union Springs in the championship game.
The Indians enjoyed a turkey reward as the winning team and sent a message that they want to be title contenders when the IAC season tips off this week. Tournament MVP Canaan Bowie earned a turkey leg for his game-high 21 points that helped Groton get off to a 2-0 start. The Wolves drop to 1-1 with the loss.
Onondaga posted a 59-39 win over Cincinnatus in the third place consolation game.
Groton 57, Union Springs 49: After the teams traded baskets over the first minutes, Union Springs used a 7-1 run to close out the first quarter and enjoyed a 15-8 cushion.
Groton responded with an increased defensive intensity and the Indians began hitting shots. A 3-pointer by Ian Park gave the Wolves an 18-11 advantage, but Groton would not allow another Union Sprigs point for the next 4:27 as used a 12-2 run to take a 23-20 lead with 2:36 left in the first half. The Indians completed the half with a 16-2 run and led 27-20 at the break.
“Canaan played his best game by far,” Groton coach John D’Antonio said of Bowie. “He really set the tone on the boards. Paul (Brecht) and Tyler (Banfield) struggled a little on defense early, but Adam Cronk, Caleb Reynolds, Tom Buckley came in and they joined Scott Salch to help set the tone on defense. We played dug in, played hard and rebounded. We all play well and deserved the win.
“We want guys to be all-around players,” he added. “Tyler, Paul and Canaan have put in so much work. It’s awesome to see the fruits of their labor. They have become that all-around player we need.”
“This was a great team effort,” Brecht said after his 15-point effort and solid defense earned him a spot on the all-tournament team. “Our defense really locked in during the second quarter. The effort, passion and intensity picked up for us. That was the difference. I really credit Canaan because that was the best defense I’ve seen from him.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been over .500 and started 2-0 in a season,” he added. “It feels good and I hope we’re just getting started.”
Bowie started that second quarter run with a short jumper and then put home an offensive rebound while being fouled. The senior sank the free throw to pull Groton to within 18-16. Tyler Banfield gave Groton the lead for good with a 3-pointer from the right elbow with five minutes to go.
Caleb Reynolds added a free throw and Paul Brecht buried a trey from the top of the key to compete a 12-0 run.
Bowie closed out the half with a steal and lay-in for the seven point margin.
Groton opened the third quarter with a 6-0 run to build a 33-20 lead while continuing to stymie Union Springs offensively. The Wolves snapped a 6:21 scoring drought when Nick Valentino made a free throw and a Riley Evener lay-up got the Wolves to within 35-25 with 3:02 remaining in the third quarter.
Union Springs closed out the quarter with a seven-point run which made the score 39-32.
Brecht put Groton up by 10 to open the fourth quarter, but Union Springs cut the deficit to six points. The Indians never allowed Union Springs closer than six points Brecht and Bowie sank some clutch shots.
TreShaun Stokes scored on a drive to the basket and Cameron Anthony followed suit and was fouled with 1:16 to go. Anthony made the free throw to pull Union Springs to within 53-49, but Groton made clutch free throws to seal the win. Banfield (13 points) completed an 8-for-8 effort at the charity stripe with two tosses with 1:01 to play. Bowie added to free throws with 37 seconds for the 57-49 final.
Anthony finished with 11 points and Kevin Cunningham added 12 points to paced the Union Springs scorers. Both earned all-tournament team honors.
Onondaga 59, Cincinnatus 39: Cincinnatus hung tough for the first quarter of Saturday’s consolation game, but Onondaga took control in the second quarter and dominated second half play in the 22-point victory. The Lions (0-2) trailed 14-13 after one quarter, but fell behind 32-23 by halftime. The Tigers (1-1) used an 18-5 third quarter edge to pull away.
Bryce Macina netted 11 points for Onondaga and earned all-tournament team honors. Wes Corr chipped in with 10 points.
Connor Stafford led all scorers with 22 points and earned all-tournament honors for Cincinnatus. Leo Golicki added 10 points to the Lions’ attack.