Yellowjackets struggle in Drago final as Vestal wins, 36-24

Julie Lewis | The Daily StarOneonta High's Albert Odero draws contact from Vestal's Andrew O'Hara while attempting to score on a layup during the first quarter of Friday's Anthony C. Drago Tournament championship game at OHS. Odero missed the shot and no fouls were called.

ONEONTA — Think of your most painful root canal or the shin splints that hurt so bad you could barely walk and you'll begin to get the idea just how unsightly the display of offensive basketball that was put forth by Oneonta High and Vestal on Friday night.

The Golden Bears emerged with a 36-24 victory to claim the Anthony C. Drago Tournament boys title.

And no, that wasn't the halftime score.

Heck, as the Yellowjackets were putting an 83-55 hurting on Unatego the night before, standout Albert Odero had 25 points by his lonesome.

The treading was considerably more difficult on this night.

OHS (1-1) shot 10-for-49 from the field and its 24-point output was among the lowest during coach Jerry Mackey's tenure as coach. In fact, take Mackey's name out of it, it had to be among the lowest no matter who headed the Yellowjackets.

Some of it no doubt was the active 2-3 zone that the Golden Bears played for the majority of the night. A lot of it, however, rests with Oneonta.

The Yellowjackets simply didn't look comfortable. They turned the ball over, struggled to get to the basket, settled for jumpshots and generally didn't much put pressure on Vestal's defense.

"We fall in love with the chuck-and-duck three, we shot a lot of threes that didn't come from any penetration and kickout or any post passing back out or skips," Mackey said. "I think we did a lot of side-to-side, east-west stuff and one touch and a shot, and two touches and a shot. We still don't have a true north-south point guard, we don't have much size up front, physicality-wise on the glass, and I don't think we competed very hard on the glass on a number of different plays."

Throw in the fact that Odero picked up his second foul on a silly reach-in with 2 minutes, 15 seconds left in the opening quarter and OHS had to play without its best player for final 10-plus minutes of the first half.

Still, when Josh Davi scored inside with 3:40 left in the first half, Oneonta's deficit was 13-9.

Vestal (2-0) answered with six straight points to end the quarter. Elijah Mushalla, a sturdy inside post presence, scored back-to-back baskets, the first on a driving layup, and the second off a nifty dish from tournament MVP TJ Wegmann as Vestal extended its lead to 17-9.

Wegmann, who scored 11 points, turned a steal into a layup as the Golden Bears took a 10-point lead into halftime.

"We knew (Odero) could drive, so we stayed in the 2-3 zone," Wegmann said. "We know they have some shooters, too, but we worked our butts off. We got out there, we got a hand in the shooters' faces and disrupted their shots. I think that led to them missing a lot of their shots. We rebounded, we got steals, we got blocks. That was huge for us."

Late in the third quarter, OHS looked as if it might make a run.

Skylar Thompson made Oneonta's lone three-pointer of the night off a pass from Odero, before Odero scored on a putback. It was nearly a dunk, but the ball came out and then went back in. That basket made it 29-20 as the teams entered the fourth quarter.

But Oneonta managed just four points over the final eight minutes, a putback by Odero with 6:15 left and then a steal-and-dunk by Odero with 2:10 to go, that basket closing Oneonta's deficit to 34-24. On this night, that 10-point lead felt more like 30.

"Fatigue probably played a factor, playing two games back-to-back right off the bat," Vestal coach Rob Carr said. "It's not easy on the legs. We certainly have a lot of things to work on and I'm sure Jerry would say the same thing. There's no doubt (Oneonta) is going to win a lot of games."

All-tournament selection Mushalla banged his way to 15 points.

Odero finished with 12 points and earned a spot on the all-tournament team, as did teammate George Foti, who was held scoreless Friday after hitting six three-pointers and scoring 20 points against Unatego a night earlier.

Vestal 36, Oneonta 24

Drago Tournament

Championship

VESTAL (2-0): Joe D'Esti 3-8 0-0 6, Peyton Alig 0-1 0-0 0, Andrew O'Hara 1-2 0-2 2, TJ Wegmann 3-10 5-6 11, Charlie Lanfranchi 0-1 0-0 0, Jake Nelson 0-1 0-2 0, Mike Kosty 1-8 0-1 2, Elijah Mushalla 7-11 1-5 15. TOTALS: 15-42 6-16 36.

ONEONTA (1-1): Josh Davi 2-6 0-0 4, Brock Eichler 0-3 0-0 0, George Foti 0-9 0-0 0, Willy Harrison 0-0 0-0 0, Garrett Hassard 0-1 0-0 0, Stevie Melendez 0-1 0-0 0, Daniel Njoku 1-8 1-2 3, Albert Odero 5-14 2-2 12, Noah Sheehan 1-3 0-0 2, Skylar Thompson 1-4 0-0 3. TOTALS: 10-49 3-4 24.

Vestal ..... 9 10 10 7 – 36

Oneonta ..... 4 5 11 4 – 24

Three-point field goals: O 1 (Thompson).

Tournament MVP: TJ Wegmann (Vestal).

All-Tournament Team: Tanner Winchester (Unatego), Josh Gonzales (Canajoharie), Elijah Mushalla (Vestal), George Foti (Oneonta).

Rob Centorani can be reached at rcentorani@thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.

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