Its been a while since Norton High School had the chance to raise a banner for boys basketball but after the Lancers’ game with the Westwood Westwood, there is sure to be a banner on the walls proclaiming the Lancers to be at least co-TVL champions.
“We’re champions of some sort. That’s the first one in 20 years,” Norton head coach Marc Liberatore said.
While the Wolverines made it interesting at times, the Lancers pulled out a 74-62 win to clinch at least a portion of the Tri-Valley League Championship.
Things started well enough for the Lancers when Dan Rafuse (18 points) nailed a pair of quick dishes under the basket and a three pointer. A couple of three pointers from Steve Burrill (30 points) helped maintain a 19-13 Lancers lead after the first quarter.
The Wolverines were only able to produce 10 points in the second quarter in part due to the play of Colin Feeney (20 points). Controlling the paint, the Wolverines struggled to get shots off and rebounds against Feeney who had a game high 12 rebounds by the end of the night.
“I thought we rebounded well. Colin had some huge rebounds on the offensive glass today when we missed a couple a shots,” Liberatore said.
Up by 17 at halftime, the Lancers saw their lead slowly slip away with timely turnovers and shots by the Wolverines. By the end of the third, what was a double digit lead was down to six points.
“They made a great comeback and a lot of the credit goes to them. They played hard. They turned us over. They made big shots,” Liberatore said.
The Wolverines took their first lead of the night off an Erik Maloney (15 points) shot. The Lancers had chances to extend the lead throughout the half at the free throw line but couldn’t convert to help the Westwood cause.
After exchanging the lead back and forth the Wolverines took the lead for the final time off of a Joe Lally (17 points) three pointer to give Westwood a 57-56 edge with four minutes to play in the game.
The Lancers took the lead back with 2:37 to play when Feeney converted on a three point play to give the Lancers a 60-58 lead.
With a little over two minutes to play and up by four, Burrill was sent to the line for two important shots. Going one for two at the free throw line, Burrill earned the unconventional four-point play when Zach Ruby got the offensive rebound for the Lancers and dished the ball right back out to Burrill to end the possession up by eight.
After spending the second half mounding a comeback and even taking the lead, the four point play seemed to destroy almost any chance of a Westwood win. Forced to foul, the Lancers locked up the game with their last eight points coming from the charity stripe.
Norton can become the undisputed Tri-Valley League champions with a win on Senior Night against Bellingham on February 14th. Tip-off is expected to be at 6:30pm.