VVS boys triumph over Oneida Tuesday
The rivals squared off at the Tri-Valley season finale, but a second half push gave VVS the win.
ONEIDA, N.Y. » It was a tale of two halves on Tuesday night at Fariel Gymnasium.
With sectional berths already guaranteed for Oneida and Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, the two rivals squared off in a Tri-Valley season finale.
Oneida, seeking its first win over VVS since 2015, led by as many as nine in the first half, but VVS was able to remain within striking distance courtesy of Nate Palmer’s sharpshooting. After battling to a 25-25 first half, VVS outscored the hosts 40-24 in the second to take a 65-49 win and cement the Red Devils as the top team in the Tri-Valley League Pioneer Division.
“The guys were happy to win their share of the Tri-Valley,” VVS coach Andy Cossette said following the victory and conclusion of the regular season.
Palmer netted a game-high 18 points, knocking down four 3-pointers to lead the VVS attack. Jake Engler was right on Palmer’s heels, finishing with 17 points on the night, 15 of which came in the second half.
Oneida was led by a 17-point effort from Alex Vaccaro. John Jones added 11 for the hosts, and Vinny Leibl posted 10 in the loss.
Vaccaro was a particular point of interest for the Red Devils.
“Vaccaro killed us last time,” Cosette said of the Oneida senior’s 26-point performance against the Red Devils at VVS in January. “I thought TJ [Horodnick] did a nice job on him,”
VVS struck first in the second
half when Roden kicked a pass out to Engler for a 3-point make. Jones answered for Oneida with an offensive rebound and put-back, but Engler came right back to drill another 3-pointer for VVS’ next score to put the visitors up 31-27. Later in the third, VVS extended its lead seven, 4134, following consecutive offensive boards and putbacks, by Roden and Horodnick, respectively. Vaccaro drew a foul on a shot from distance for Oneida on its next possession, converting two of three from the foul line to make the score 41-36, but Engler drove the lane for and scooped a shot home for VVS with 1:15 left in the third to push the lead back to seven. Then, Palmer broke the Oneida full-court press and found Roden open underneath for an easy hoop and a 4537 Red Devil lead. Oneida closed the quarter with a Jacob Vaccaro mid-range shot off the glass to stay within six, 45-39, entering the final quarter of play.
The Red Devils opened their lead to double figures twominutes into the fourth when Palmer splashed home his fourth three of the night for a 52- 41 lead. Ty D’Archangelis answered Palmer’s 3-pointer with one of his own on Oneida’s next scoring possession to keep the hosts close. At the 4:00 mark, a Jacob Vacarro foul shot crept Oneida to within six, but VVS was too much down the stretch. Roden earned a trip to the line to convert one of two, Engler followed with twomore makes from the charity stripe, and Davey Moffett added hoop in the paint to grow the VVS lead to 58-47 with less than two minutes remaining. Engler added two more for a 60-47 VVS lead before Alex Vaccaro netted a foul line jumper to halt the run, but with just over a minute to play, the Red Devils were able to close the contest out with a 65-49 win.
Cossette credited his side’s ability to weather Oneida’s initial barrage to experience.
“I’ve got five seniors that start, and another solid one on the bench,” he said.
Oneida finished the contest with 11 points left on the free throw line, something coach Jeff Didio pointed to after the game.
“They made some real big plays in that third quarter, hit some 3’s, and had a few breakaway layups,” Didio said. “It’s kind of the story of our season. We seem to play well for two to three good, solid quarters. We shoot the ball well and defend, but then we get into a little scoring lull, and I thought VVS took advantage of that...Truthfully, we didn’t shoot the ball very well from the foul line. We were 9 for 20.”
Oneida raced out to a 145, capped by an Alex Vaccaro lay-in, to bring the home crowd to its feet and force a VVS timeout with 2:18 to go in the first. After John Jones netted Oneida’s first point of the game from the charity stripe, Vinny Leibl and Vaccaro provided an early spark for Oneida. Vaccaro collected six of his team-high 17 points and Leibl added five, burying a 3-pointer in the opening minutes. VVS closed on Oneida in the final two minutes of the first quarter. Engler got free for a lay-up out of the stoppage, and Palmer added a driving score of his own to cut the deficit to 14-9 in favor of Oneida.
Palmer picked up where he left off in the second quarter. The senior point guard buried a 3-pointer in the opening minute of the second quarter to pull VVS within two points. Oneida’s Vinny Leibl pushed the lead back to four with another hoop before TJ Horodnick answered with his own shot from distance to bring the RedDevilswithin a point at 16-15. Palmer followed with another 3-ball as the visitors took an 18-16 lead with 5:00 left in the first half.
The two teams closed the half like two fighters trading punches. Alex Vaccaro grabbed an offensive board for the put-back, but VVS answered by feeding Dewey Roden in the paint. The senior earned back-to-back trips to the foul line, netting all four freebies for a 22-18 VVS lead. Oneida continued its attack on the offensive glass, coming right back with an offensive rebound and put-back by Jones, followed by a tough Vaccaro hoop as the Oneida senior split Roden and DaveyMoffett for a tightly contested make. Oneida appeared poised to take a 25-22 lead into the intermission when Leibl splashed home his second 3-pointer of the night to give the hosts a 2522 lead, but Palmer struck again for the Red Devils, drilling his third 3-point shot of the quarter with 23 seconds left to ensure the two teams entered the break tied at 25 a piece.
VVS finishes the regular season 15- 4 overall with a first place TVL Pioneer record of 8-3.
Oneida closes the door on its regular season 8-12 overall and second in the TVL Pioneer at 5-6.
VVS’ Jake Engler glides in a for a lay-in during Tuesday’s boys hoops contest with Oneida.
Oneida’s Alex Vaccaro attempts splits a pair of VVS defenders for a layup during boys hoops action on Tuesday, Feb. 13.