March 05, 2009
Oxford ousts top seed Groton
Indians pick bad time for shooting woes
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Peter Jackson (13) of Groton splits Oxford defenders as he puts up a shot during Wednesday’s Class C sectional semifinal game. Visiting Oxford knocked off the top seeds, 63-54.
GROTON — With defeat eminent in the final moments of this Section 4 Class C boys’ basketball semifinal, the boisterous Groton Central student body began a chant of “Thank You Seniors” that echoed throughout Richard Court Gymnasium.
That throaty tribute was an appreciative adieu directed towards point guard Peter Jackson and forward Charles Pratt, the only seniors on Groton’s roster whose careers were coming to an all too abrupt ending.
But kudos could have also been directed towards two other savvy seniors, as Tom Gould and Craig Champlin proved to be the dynamic duo that lifted the fourth-seeded Oxford Blackhawks to a 63-54 victory over their top-seeded hosts Wednesday evening.
Gould, a sturdy 6-foot-3 forward, provided 23 points worth of blue collar work in the low post for the Blackhawks. He missed just three of the 13 shots he took.
Champlin, a versatile 6-foot-5 forward and a match-up nightmare for any defense, tossed in 22 points including a couple of early 3-point swishes that gave the visitors an early advantage they would never relinquish.
Groton shooting woes against an Oxford defense that holds opponents to 40 points per contest also led to this outcome. The Indians missed their first dozen attempts launched from beyond the 3-point arc and shot just 32 percent on their home floor overall while seeing a successful 17-4 season end.
“I don’t know. We played teams that played good defense before and we did okay,” said Jackson, a court jitterbug who offset his own wayward shooting touch by collecting eight assists while running the Groton offense for the last time. “I can’t explain it, because we’re a good shooting team.”
Groton head coach John Filzen also struggled with why his team failed to thrive with the home court advantage, saying of his shooters: “We fill it up here.”
Junior guard Nick Conway led the Indians with 18 points, four 3-pointers among the shots he landed as Coach Filzen noted: “He hit the biggest shots trying to get us back in the game.” Junior forward Brandon Peckham came off the bench to convert his first four shots working inside, accounting for his eight-point contribution.
But the rest of the Indians made just nine of 46 shots.
A LATE FLURRY of 3-pointers courtesy of Conway, Ethan Tilebein and Josh Senter would make a potential last minute comeback doable, Groton within 59-54 with just 30.6 seconds left to play when Tilebein connected from long, long range. But that was the last basket of the season for the Indians, who finished with nine 3-pointers while in the comeback mode throughout.
“It seemed like we couldn’t get over the hump,” said team captain Jackson. “It was not the ideal way to go out.”
Groton never got close enough to rattle the poised Blackhawks, who are returning to the Class C finals for a second consecutive year with practically the same cast of characters. “They were very strong and athletic and demonstrated more discipline than we did on both ends of the court,” conceded Filzen of the winners.
Oxford (20-3) advances to face Odessa-Montour (17-6) for the Class C title Saturday at 6:45 p.m. at the Broome County Arena in downtown Binghamton. Odessa-Montour knocked off Moravia 72-52 in the other semifinal played last night, which meant it was a long night for Division III teams out of the Interscholastic Athletic Conference — where Groton finished first and Moravia (16-7) second in the regular season.
Getting off to a good start was crucial for Oxford, too, in this match-up of state-ranked schools. Oxford came into the game ranked No. 6 in this week’s Class C state poll, a spot ahead of Groton.
After Conway scored an uncontested layup for the opening basket, giving Groton its lone lead, the Blackhawks scored 10 straight points featuring a pair of Champlin treys and pretty much maintained that working margin throughout. When the Indians pulled to within five points in the final minute, that was as close to the lead as they had been since that early Oxford spurt.
“Groton is a team that has more depth than we do and a little more speed, and we had to get off to a good start while we were fresh to give us a lead we could lean on,” said Oxford coach Tim David.
“I thought we could harass them defensively, but in the first quarter they proved me wrong,” said Filzen. “When we extended our defense, they made us pay.”
DOWN 26-13 IN the second quarter, Conway landing Groton’s first 3-pointer and then capped a 10-2 run with another trey that caused Oxford to call time-out with 1:03 left in the half. Gould scored off the time-out and the Blackhawks led 30-23 at the break, and the lead grew to 41-30 late in the third quarter.
Even the return of previously suspended and still rusty Indians Tilebein and Kyle Reed to the lineup — both juniors coming off the bench after missing the IAC playoffs and last Saturday’s 67-57 quarterfinal victory over Sidney — could not help the Indians overtake the Blackhawks. Senter finished with nine points (all on treys), Tilebein eight and Reed seven as Groton anxiously failed to catch up.
While Gould and Champlin led Oxford, junior guard Cory Seiler added 10 points including the clinching free throws five seconds from the finish.
“They kept us in it, our seniors and Seiler,” said Coach David of his sparkplugs. “They really have a lot of experience. They spend a lot of time playing together so they’ve been a fun trio to watch play.”
Oxford 63, Groton 54
Oxford (20-3) 63: Trask 1-5 0-0 2, Seiler 4-10 2-5 10, Champlin 7-17 6-7 22, Paul 0-0 0-0 0,Gould 10-13 3-4 23, Nelson 2-2 0-0 4, Renaud 1-1 0-0 2. Team totals: 25-47 11-16 63
Groton (17-4) 54: Jackson 2-14 0-0 4, Conway 7-11 0-0 18, Pratt 0-0 0-0 0, Senter 3-15 0-0 9, Gallow 0-0 0-0 0, Reed 2-9 3-7 6, Tilebein 2-8 2-2 8, Peckham 4-5 0-0 8. Team totals: 20-62 5-8 54
Oxford 20 10 11 22 — 63
Groton 11 12 9 22 — 54
Oxford (2-5)- Trask 0-1, Seiler 0-2, Champlin 2-2. Groton (9-37)- Jackson 0-11, Conway 4-7, Senter 3-12, Tilebein 2-7
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