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Litchfield Makes Wamogo Gymnasium `Their House.' Story by John Torsiello.

POSTED March 01, 2011
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney


By, JOHN TORSIELLO

LITCHFIELD-It was a somewhat amusing, odd juxtaposition listening to the visiting Litchfield student section serenading the Wamogo fans with chants of, “This is our house,” after the Cowboys beat the Warriors, 56-46, in the semifinals of the Berkshire League Boys Basketball Tournament Tuesday night.

This year’s third edition of The Battle of Litchfield brings out that sort of emotion in not only the fans but also the players. And for one night, the Wamogo gymnasium did indeed belong to the Cowboys and their fans, at least in spirit.

“There is a lot to be said about this rivalry,” offered Litchfield’s Mike Andrulis, who had 16 points. “We know all the kids on the Wamogo team and that makes these games all the more intense.”

What also made Tuesday night’s clash, played before an SRO crowd of around 800 fans, even more intense was the fact that this year’s series was tied at one game all after Wamogo, behind Mike Odenwaelder’s 31 points, beat its cross town rival (the schools are about two miles apart) in overtime last week. To say the Cowboys had something to prove on foreign hard wood would be an understatement.

“After the overtime loss last week our guys were really looking forward to playing them again,” admitted Litchfield mentor Jason Harlow, whose team improved to 17-5 and advanced to the finals of the BL Tournament for the fifth time in six years (they won it in 2006 and 2007). “We knew it was going to be a dogfight especially at their place.”

Wamogo came out of the doghouse quick and raced out to a 12-5 lead midway through the first period when Spencer Albano canned a three-pointer. The Warriors were holding onto a four-point advantage at the first stop thanks to a jumper from Odenwaelder near the end of the period.

The Cowboys caught fire in the second period on offense behind Andrulis, who had five points of an 11-2 spurt that put the visitors ahead, 25-20, with 1:30 remaining in the half.

The Cowboys also were able to shut the Warriors down defensively as the home club managed only four points in the second quarter.

The third period was a see saw affair until Odenwaelder (18 points) drove to the hoop, was fouled and made the resulting free throw to pull his team to within two points, 38-36, with 1:41 left the period. Baskets by Caleb Buck (12 points) and Quinn McKenna (14 points) put Litchfield ahead, 42-36, after three.

Odenwaelder made both ends of a one-and-one free throw opportunity to start the fourth period and then canned a slick turnaround from the baseline to pull his team to within a bucket.

The Litchfield lead was two, 44-42, with under three minutes to play when the Cowboys went into a slowdown on offense that forced Wamogo to foul in attempt to get the ball back. The Cowboys were up to the task from the charity stripe, canning 13 free throws during the final 1:42 of the game to pull away. Wamogo’s only basket during that span was a drive to the hoop by Odenwaelder.

“We had practiced defending when Litchfield went to the slowdown but we had so few fouls we had to waste a lot of time getting to the bonus situation and putting them on the line,” said Wamogo head coach Gregg Hunt, whose team upset Gilbert in the quarterfinals of the tourney. “They missed a few free throws but got their own rebounds and that really hurt our chances down the stretch.”

Said Harlow, “I wasn’t happy with our defense in the first period but we played better as the game went along and we ground it out.”

Litchfield did an effective job shutting Odenwaelder down for most of the game. Harlow used several players on him and pushed the Wamogo star away from the basket where he is most comfortable.

Said Hunt of Litchfield’s game plan on Odenwaelder, “They made him work, used little guys and big guys on him and he never really got into a rhythm. He got 18 rebounds but only three on the offensive end. Litchfield is a well coached team.”

Litchfield 56, Wamogo 46

Litchfield ((17-5): Caleb Buck 5 2 12, Quinn McKenna 3 8 14, Quinlan McCarthy 1 3 5, Drew Gauvain 0 0 0, Hunter Grabowski 3 1 7, Nick Hula 0 0 0, Mike Andrulis 6 4 16. Totals: 18 18 56.

Wamogo (11-11): Mark Davis 0 0 0, Ted Gravel 3 0 6, Lucas Fraher 3 3 9, Nick Nemergut 2 2 6, Matt McElhone 0 0 0, Mike Odenwaelder 7 3 18, Bill Grambo 0 0 0. Totals: 18 8 46.

Litchfield 14 12 16 14 56

Wamogo 18 4 14 10 46

3-pt. goals: L-2 Andrulis 2. W-2 Odenwaelder, Albano.

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