KNOXVILLE — Cole West scored 28 points and Josh Sharp added 19 here Tuesday, as Oneida overcame a 30-point outing by Blake VonHagen and pulled away late for a 74-63 win over the Knox Ambassadors.
In a game that was nip-and-tuck most of the night, the one-loss Indians found themselves in for a fight against the Knoxville club, trailing at one point in the fourth quarter.
But West was able to match VanHagen nearly blow-for-blow, and the Ambassadors did not have an answer for the sharp-shooting of Josh Sharp and the tough inside play of senior newcomer Zeke Newport.
Sharp knocked down five of 10 3-point shot attempts, while Newport had a team-high six rebounds and two blocked shots while scoring seven points from his position on the low block.
After an earlier game that saw the Ambassadors' ladies' team enjoy a 47-16 free throw advantage over Oneida's girls' team, the guys' game started much the same way. In fact, the Ambassadors had a 24-10 advantage at the free throw line until they began to have to foul late, eventually evening the total at 26.
At one point in the game, Oneida assistant coach was whistled for a technical foul while having a discussion with an Oneida player. During that stretch, midway through the third quarter, the Ambassadors were able to use the free throw line to erase a 12-point advantage and grab a slight lead going into the fourth quarter.
In the end, though, there was too much Cole West slashing to the basket and too much Josh Sharp from the perimeter for the Ambassadors to overcome. Trailing 55-51 a minute into the fourth quarter, Oneida went on an 11-0 run to grab a seven-point lead and eventually turned that into a 23-8 run to end the game.
While Oneida was out-rebounded by the Ambassadors, the Indians forced the Knoxville club into 25 turnovers while committing only 11 of their own. That proved to be a pivotal difference in the game, particularly during the fourth quarter rally. The two teams finished with almost identical shooting percentages — 46.7 percent for the Ambassadors; 46.6 percent for Oneida — but the 3-point line proved to be the difference. With Bryant Harper adding a 3-point shot to Sharp's five treys, the Indians enjoyed a 6-2 advantage from beyond the arch, enough to overcome a dismal 54 percent shooting performance from the free throw line.
Oneida will next be in action Friday, when district play begins with a visit from Oakdale.
ONEIDA (74): Cole West 28, Josh Sharp 19, Michael Jeffers 10, Zeke Newport 7, Bryant Harper 4, Cage West 4, Jordan Freels 2.
AMBASSADORS (63): Blake VonHagen 30, Dustin Pratt 10, Micah Troyer 8, Jack Landis 6, Josh Brown 6, Caleb Brackney 3.