ORISKANY, NY– Every time a ball went in the basket Saturday night, you would have thought a bomb went off in Keith Davis Gymnasium at Oriskany High School. The noise level on both sides was deafening at times, but it was all to support their respective schools.
For Oriskany and senior Ryan Enos, who have won 28 of those games with the deafening noise level, they used it just as they had 28 times before: as motivation.
“The crowd is big; they’re always big,” Enos, who finished with 22 points on the night. “It gives us extra energy.”
“It’s always great to play in Oriskany,” Redskins head coach Chris Mahoney said. “We couldn’t ask for more out of our school.”
That energy was what the Redskins needed to push the win streak to 29, as both they and the Westmoreland Bulldogs played a nail-biter on Saturday night. In the end, however, it would be the Redskins who would come out on top, riding the hot hands of Enos and junior Richard Phelps to an 80-74 victory.
Phelps would end up with 28 points on the game, but it was Enos who would win the night, putting up five of his team’s ten three-point shots on the night. Westmoreland’s Luke Fredsell, in an almost-Herculean effort for his team, put up an eye-popping six of his team’s eight long-range shots in the game.
However, according to Fredsell, this was nothing new. “We played them last year, it was the same thing,” Fredsell said.
In the first quarter, however, it would be Oriskany who would get hot early. Senior Parker Gauthier would hit two threes to power the Redskins to an early 10-4 lead. The Bulldogs would not go away, as they countered Oriskany’s frenetic, fast-paced offense with a more methodical one, forcing turnovers and early fouls from the Redskins to pull within one point midway through the first quarter.
From there, as it was for most of the game, it was a back and forth affair. However, Oriskany would take advantage of key Westmoreland turnovers to bring the lead to as high as ten points. Yet again, though, fouls would help the Bulldogs stay in the game, cutting the margin to seven just before the end of the quarter, 26-19 in favor of the hometown Redskins.
The Bulldogs would put together a workman’s effort in the second quarter, putting together a 5-0 run in the beginning of the period. Yet again, the men in stripes would hurt the Redskins, as key fouls would allow Westmoreland to put together a string of free throws to keep pace. By the end of the first half, Westmoreland would take 13 free throws, making ten of them to keep Oriskany within reach. However, according to Westmoreland head coach Steve Campbell, the Bulldogs were not able to take advantage as much as he wanted.
“We were right there all night,” Campbell said. “We just couldn’t finish tonight.”
From there, both teams would take a frenetic pace into the locker room, with Oriskany holding a slim 40-35 lead.
The third quarter saw the roof in the Oriskany Gym open up into a shower of three-point shots. Coming out of the locker room, both teams seemed to find their touch from long range. Starting with a Fredsell shot to cut the Oriskany lead to one, as quickly as the Redskins would hit from behind the three-point line, Westmoreland would run down the court and hit a three of their own. This whipped the crowd into a frenzy, as neither team was able to cut the lead to much more than a basket. By the time all was said and done, both the Redskins and the Bulldogs sank a total of nine three-point shots, keeping the Oriskany lead at two at the break and whipping Mahoney into a frenzy of his own.
“A lot of times we settled for the three-point shot,” Mahoney said. “I’m happy with our effort in the end, but we have a lot to improve on.”
However, the roar of the crowd grew deadly silent just sixteen seconds into the fourth quarter. Westmoreland’s Zachary Merritt went down hard to the floor after a hard foul, hurting his arm. Paramedics were on the scene and helped Merritt get on-the-scene treatment before rushing him to the hospital. However, Campbell and Fredsell were not worried about their fallen player and teammate.
“He’s tough,” Fredsell said of his teammate. “He wants be back as soon as possible.”
Campbell remarked on the toughness of Merritt, who finished with 12 points on the night. “He’s our spark plug,” Campbell said. “He plays all-out.”
After some time to help the teams warm up again after the delay, the game was back to nip-and-tuck basketball. In the first two minutes of the quarter, however, neither team could find the basket, the only point coming on a free throw by junior Cory Andron.
The cheering would grow louder and louder as the clock ticked down to zero. In the last few minutes, key turnovers for the Bulldogs allowed the Redskins to pull away and finally put away Westmoreland for win number 29.
For Campbell, it was another hard fought battle with the defending New York State champions.
“We told them [after the game], you lost to a very good team,” Campbell said. “We knew they were going to be good; they’re always good and well-coached.”
In parting, Fredsell had some words for Oriskany’s next opponents. “Bring everything you have to beat them,” Fredsell said.
To beat this team, however, it might take everything and the kitchen sink.
Oriskany Redskins 80, Westmoreland Bulldogs 74
Redskins 26 14 20 20 80
Bulldogs 19 16 23 16 74
Oriskany Redskins (80)
Sam Corrigan 3 1-3 8, Parker Gauthier 2 0-0 6, Ryan Enos 6 5-6 22, Deam Mealey 6 2-3 14, Mykal Warcup 1 0-0 2, Richard Phelps 10 6-8 28, Brandon Reid 1 0-0 2. Total: 29 14-20 80.
Westmoreland Bulldogs (74)
Cory Andron 1 3-7 5, Luke Fredsell 10 7-8 33, Zachary Merritt 5 2-2 12, Brandon Wilson 5 1-1 14, Zachary Stephens 1 0-1 3, Colin DeBiase 3 1-2 7. Total: 25 14-21 74.
Three-point field goals: Oriskany 10 (Enos 5, Phelps 2, Gauthier 2, Corrigan), Westmoreland 10 (Fredsell 6, Wilson 3, Stephens 1).
Halftime: Oriskany 40, Westmoreland 35.
JV Score: Oriskany 72, Westmoreland 35.