In the boys' championship game last Sunday at Norwood Fontbonne Academy's 49th Annual Snowball tournament, the Bears claimed a 42-39 victory over Germantown Friends and emerged as the tourney champions.
In the boys' championship game last Sunday at Norwood Fontbonne Academy's 49th Annual Snowball tournament, the host Bears trailed Germantown Friends School by one point at the three-quarter mark. Norwood was able to outscore the Tigers in the fourth period, 6-2, to claim a 42-39 victory and emerge as the 2023 tourney champions.
The NFA boys had also won the title in 2022, when the Snowball tourney returned after a COVID-19 cancellation in 2021.
A number of grade school teams from the area participated in the long-running event. Everything functioned smoothly due to a hardworking staff of parents, including those serving at the highly-acclaimed Snowball snack bar.
The first varsity tournament game took place on Thursday evening, with the boys of Our Mother of Consolation School (OMC) taking on the Blue (or "B" Team) from Norwood Fontbonne.
Although the NFA boys played better later in the game, a slow start led to a 36-25 loss to their Chestnut Hill neighbors, Our Mother of Consolation School. OMC ran off the first 12 points of the contest before a jump shot by Alex Hulitt got the Bears on the board. OMC led 30-10 at halftime, but didn't score in the third quarter as Norwood came back to 30-16 by the end of the period.
Late in the fourth quarter a free throw by Kian Edwards got Norwood within seven points of the leaders (32-25), then OMC's Parker Purcell pulled both points out of a one-and-one and added a field goal at the end. Seven points from Purcell and six from Gabriel Medley paced OMC, while Norwood got five points apiece from Edwards and Bryce Simon and four from Hulitt.
The Norwood boys "A" team (designated Gold) swung into action on Friday night. The Bears charged out to an 18-0 lead before Green Woods Charter School got on the board in the final minute of the first quarter. The score was 31-15 at the intermission, and Green Woods (which hails from Roxborough) played significantly better in the second half.
The gap between the teams had narrowed to nine points (50-41) with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the game. Down the stretch, Norwood had Billy Murphy and Finn Canally each make two free throws, and Brandon Ross converted off an offensive rebound to help the Bears win, 56-43. LJ Brown led the winners with 13 points and Canally scored 12, with Ross and Ryan Smith adding 10 points apiece. Green Woods' Isaiah Coleman put up a game-high 19 points, and Frankie Durkin added nine in the losing cause.
Germantown Friends' first step toward the final was taken at midday on Saturday, when the Tigers broke open a tight game in the fourth quarter. They outscored St. Philip Neri (SPN) in the fourth frame, 25-12, to emerge with a 67-54 victory. Billy Henighan of GFS shot nine-for-12 from the foul line in the fourth period to emerge with a game-high 29 points, while Cole Reilly led the Saints with 18.
Fired up for its next game in the middle of the afternoon, St. Philip stormed past the Norwood Blue squad, 48-15. Reilly and Luke West had eight points apiece for SPN, which received a game-high of 15 points from Ryan Cupchak. NFA Blue had Simon and Brayden Cunningham each score seven points.
Next up was a consolation game between two teams that had lost earlier. Here, Green Woods Charter topped OMC, 42-18. The winners were led by Coleman and Taaj Key with 12 and nine points, respectively, while OMC's Ezra Sileshi scored all of his nine points from the three-point line.
Just after this, a dozen points from Taaj Johnson led GFS to a 53-18 victory over Norwood Blue in a non-bracketed game. NFA's Cunningham had eight points in the losing cause.
Saturday night's headliner between Norwood Gold and St. Helena School of Blue Bell would live up to its billing. The Bears led 24-18 at the half and 34-30 after three quarters, but the Tigers of St. Helena wouldn't go away.
With Norwood up by one point very late in regulation, Billy Murphy appeared to seal the deal by hitting both ends of a one-and-one to make it 46-43 with under 10 seconds to play. St. Helena came up the floor and got the ball into the hands of Shea Harrington on the right wing. He nailed a three-pointer right at the buzzer to send the bout into overtime at 46-all.
In a case of deja vu, Norwood once again led by a single point with less than half-a-minute to go in the three-minute overtime session. Murphy went to the foul line in a double-bonus situation, missed his first shot, and then banked in his second with 19 seconds on the clock.
Going for the win this time, St. Helena let fly a three-point attempt from the left side, but this time the shot missed. Norwood's Brown was fouled and went to the line with four seconds remaining, making his first shot and missing the second. On the rebound of the miss the ball was tied up and the Bears prevailed, 51-48.
In the championship game on Sunday morning, Henighan of the GFS Tigers scored 15 points in the first half and NFA's Ross posted 11 as Germantown enjoyed a 30-27 edge at the intermission. Both players were better defended by the opposition in the second half.
By the end of the third period, Norwood had crept within one point of GFS, now down only 37-36. In the fourth quarter the Bears limited the Tigers to a single field goal (by Adrian Keene), while Brown recorded a field goal and a free throw, Ross scored from the floor, and Canally added a free throw to fuel the host team's 42-39 victory.
Ross and Brown logged 16 and 12 points, respectively, for NFA Gold, which received nine points from Canally, four from Smith, and one from Murphy. The Tigers' Henighan led all scorers with 19 points, and GFS got nine points from Alexander Kranzel, five from Will Brawner, four from Keene, and two from Cole Fosnot.