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Bobcats crown Knights for road win

(Dennis Mansfield/Daily News photo) Norway senior hoopster Drew Anderson (3) reaches to poke away a possible rebound from Florence’s Dominic DeMuri (5), with fellow Bobcat William Kelley (3) joining in on the fight for the basketball during Thursday night’s non-conference matchup at Norway won by Florence 57-32.

NORWAY — What looked like an intriguing boys varsity non-conference matchup between two hot teams ended up in a lopsided affair Thursday night as Florence dispensed Norway 57-32 at Norway High School.

The Bobcats, now winners of four straight, held the host Knights to just two points over a nearly 12-minute span bridging the second and third quarters to up their record to 9-3. Meanwhile, Norway, which had won four games in a row coming in, fell to 6-3.

Florence coach Bryan Bomberg said one of the keys to his team’s win was to handle Norway’s half-court trapping defense, which only produced nine turnovers through the first three quarters.

“I think we took them out of their 1-2-2 a little early, which is their bread and butter,” Bomberg said. “But, overall, we just played really solid tonight as a team, I think on both ends of the floor.”

Norway coach Jeff Gallino said his team was outfought.

Bobcat Evan Johnson (1) battles his way in between Norway defenders Tyler Neuens (32) and Blake Dishaw (10) to get a shot off in Thursday’s varsity contest. Johnson scored a game-high 16 points for visiting Florence.

“I thought they obviously outworked us, they outrebounded us and I thought their effort was a little bit better,” he said.

There were no indications early that the game would turn out the way it did. Florence took an 11-6 lead, keyed by two 3-pointers from Evan Johnson and one by William Kelley. Norway’s Alex Ortman then sank a triple of his own and Nolan Amundson hit consecutive driving buckets to pull the Knights within 15-14 with 7:03 left in the first half.

But Florence junior guard Dominic DeMuri tipped in a missed shot and then sank a 3-pointer to help the Bobcats restore a six-point lead.

Then with 5:01 to play before the halftime break, Bomberg called a timeout to change his defense from man-to-man to a 2-3 zone. The move paid huge dividends.

Norway, without injured junior forward Michael Peterson to help in the interior of the zone, went scoreless until Amundson sank a jumper with one second left in the half. By then, the Bobcats had built a 30-14 lead.

With Florence handling the Knights’ pressure defense and Norway unable to hit some perimeter shots, the hosts simply couldn’t keep up offensively with the talented Bobcats.

“I thought we had a lot of open looks, we just weren’t able to knock anything down tonight and sometimes that’s the way it goes,” Gallino said.

Norway’s drought continued into the second half when the Knights again went dry, this time for the first 4:41 of the third quarter. Meanwhile, the Bobcats scored 12 to take a 42-16 stranglehold on the game.

Bomberg said his team is playing with a point to prove.

“They’re really locked in,” he said. “You know, last year, our crew put the cart before the horse, but this year, they’re different. They have a mature approach to it right now, and we’re taking it one game at a time.

‘They’re just trying to play each game with a certain brand of basketball is what they’re trying to do,” Bomberg added.

Johnson led the Bobcats with 16 points, while Patrick Milan scored 12 and DeMuri added nine. Eight different Florence players scored.

Ortman topped Norway with nine points and Amundson recorded eight.

Afterward, the coaches looked forward as the season edges closer to February.

“We’re definitely going to check out some film and we need to get better both offensively and defensively,” Gallino said. “We have long season to go and hopefully we can improve and get better from this.”

On the other hand, Bomberg said team is anything but satisfied though its won 75 percent of its game to this point.

“They said to me that they think we have underachieved in the first half,” he said. “They were the ones that said, ‘Hey, this is what we want.’ And I think they have a point to prove.”

Jerry DeRoche can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 247, or at jderoche@ironmountaindailynews.com.

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