ORISKANY – Thursday’s Center State Conference crossover game between Oriskany and Waterville pitted teams trying to find their footing.
Oriskany is starting anew this season with a new head coach Rick Cooke and a relatively inexperienced starting lineup, while Waterville is coming off a season-opening defeat at Class B Sherburne-Earlville.
The Indians, behind an early 14-0 run held off all of the Redskins’ challenges in bouncing back for a 76-67 road victory. Waterville seniors Dawson Williams and Luke Campion each scored 21 points to help offset a career-high 39 points by Oriskany senior center Aaron Warcup. Derek Buell added 13 points for the Indians (1-1).
“It was just sharing the ball and moving the ball better tonight,” Waterville head coach Coby Maxam said of his team’s improvement. “Cutting and constant moving and hitting the outside hands with passes and taking care of the ball much better.”
There were also a lot of positives for Cooke, Warcup and the Redskins to take out of the game, despite the team committing 19 costly turnovers, the majority of them unforced.
“We had way too many,” Cooke said of the turnovers. “But we battled. The kids didn’t quit and we played hard. I think we were a little surprised at the intensity (Waterville) came out with. We don’t have that intensity in practice and didn’t have it in the scrimmage as the teams didn’t press us like they did tonight.
“I think we got a false sense of security with our ball handling and you dig yourself a 10-point hole in the first quarter it’s tough. Every time we cut it to seven or so, they’d extend it. We just could never get out of the hole. They are a good team.”
After Warcup scored a post bucket in the opening possession, the Indians went on a 14-0 run over the next 3:30 to grab a 12-point lead midway through the first quarter.
Dawson led the way with six of his nine first-quarter points during the run as Waterville never trailed after the opening bucket. Dawson and Warcup had a great battle in the post during the opening half with Oriskany’s big man holding an 18-15 advantage, but the Indians got more help from their supporting cast in building a 39-30 halftime lead.
Warcup nearly singlehandedly kept the Redskins in the game in the third quarter, scoring 10 of his team’s 12 points to keep the home squad within a 53-42 deficit entering a wild final eight minutes.
“He absolutely kept us in the game,” Cooke said of Warcup.
The teams traded hoops early in the fourth and Waterville appeared to connect with the knockout blow as Buell made a conventional three-point play and eighth-grader Tyson Maxam made a 3-pointer from the wing to push the advantage to 65-52 with 3:03 remaining.
However, the Redskins answered with a quick 10-2 run as point guard Matt Enos hit a pair of 3-pointers and Brandon Reid made a lay-in with 1:37 remaining.
“We have a whole team of shooters and we can give it to anybody at any given moment and they can go off,” said Warcup. “The motivation we had was unbelievable tonight. Coming in against one of the better teams in Class C and putting up a really good fight against them was unbelievable. We lost but, in the end we’ll see who the real winner is.”
Needing to answer, the Indians went to Campion. The senior point guard dribbled down the clock and with help from a strong screen, used his tight handle to drive through the lane and finish strong through contact with a left-handed lay-in plus the foul. After the three-point play, Campion hit four free throws in the final minute to offset Warcup’s five points to help his team wrap up the victory.
“Coach kind of expects me to have the ball in my hands at that point,” Campion said. “We’re seniors and we have to take that responsibility to take the last shot. We trust each other to take those shots. Any one of the seniors or anyone on the court could’ve taken that and we trust them to make it. I feel like we’ll keep this rolling off this win.”
Maxam was confident Campion, Dawson and Buell would make the right decisions with the ball in the closing minutes.
“They are seniors. That’s what they’re supposed to do,” Maxam said. “Dawson has been on varsity for three years, so he knows this is the year he has to take control, be a leader and take over games. Luke also knows he has to control the game even on the road. He’s good off the dribble, has a quick first step and can get off the floor.”
Colton Davis had six points, five assists and three steals for the Redskins (0-1). Warcup, who also had 11 rebounds, liked the grit his team showed after such a rough start to the game. The 6-4 senior also was way off when asked how many points he scored.
“I thought I only had about 20-something,” said Warcup, whose previous high was 17. “I was focused on the game. Everything was going my way tonight. I got the first bucket and knew as a three-year veteran I had to show out for our team and had to go put up some buckets, get some rebounds and box out to help our team stay in it.”
Cooke takes over for Chris Mahoney, who had five successful seasons leading the Redskins, including a Class D state championship in 2016. With his team moving up to the much tougher Class C this season, Cooke knows where his team needs the most improvement.
“We definitely have to get better defensively,” Cooke said. “That’s been my motto since the beginning of the summer. We are going to score our share of points. We have kids who can shoot the ball and put the ball in the basket, but it’s going to be whether we can stop anybody.”
Dawson finished with 11 rebounds, while Campion and Maxam had nine and five assists, respectively.
Waterville has also enjoyed plenty of success over the past five seasons as the Indians took home banners in both 2014 and 2015. Dawson hopes Thursday’s win is the jump-start the team needs to gain momentum this season.
“Today we hustled more and looked a lot more to the post and had more high-lows,” Williams said. “This win definitely will increase our confidence as a team and shows us what we can do. We have a long season ahead of us and I’m excited about it.”
Waterville 76, Oriskany 67
Waterville 22 17 14 23—76
Oriskany 13 17 12 25—67
Waterville (1-1): Dawson Williams 10-1 21; Luke Campion 6-7 21; Derek Buell 6-1 13; Connor Marriott 2-2 7; Tyson Maxam 3-0 7; Cody Spooner 1-0 3; Tyler Jones 1-0 2; Darren Johnson 1-0 2. Totals: 30-11-76.
Oriskany (0-1): Aaron Warcup 16-4 39; Matt Enos 3-0 8; John Longeretta 2-2 8; Colton Davis 2-1 6; Steven Armstrong 1-2 4; Brandon Reid 1-0 2. Totals: 25-9-67.