Return home

Veteran CVA stays perfect on hardwood

Todd Dewan
Sports editor
Posted 1/30/23

It’s been 10 years in the making.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Veteran CVA stays perfect on hardwood


ILION — It’s been 10 years in the making.

The Class B Central Valley Academy boys basketball team remained unbeaten on Friday night with a hard-fought 76-64 Tri-Valley League victory over visiting Class AA foe Rome Free Academy.

The experienced Thunder, who are in their 10th year of existence, were led by senior guard Jaylon O’Neal with a game-high 27 points, eight rebounds, five steals and five assists. Senior CJ Judd poured in 20 points, junior Deacon Judd tallied a triple-double with 18 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record 10 blocks and senior TJ Luke added eight points and seven rebounds.

“It feels good,” said CVA coach Luke Judd of the Thunder’s unbeaten record at 13-0 overall and 7-0 in the TVL. “We’ve beaten Whitesboro, New Hartford and now RFA for the first time. Those are three big wins. It’s been a slow grind. I’ve been part of two rebuilds. This one has been a lot longer and has a lot more grassroots. We’re just trying to take one game at a time.”

The Black Knights, who dropped to 6-9 overall and 5-2 in the league, were paced by eighth-grader Luke Hammon with a career-high 16 points. Sophomore Uzziah Grimes chipped in 15 points and six rebounds, freshman Surafia Norries had 14 points, six rebounds and seven steals and senior Jack Lawless added 10 points, 14 rebounds and four steals.

The hotly-contested game was tied 28-28 at halftime. The Thunder, who have five seniors and seven juniors, outscored the Black Knights 25-13 in the decisive third quarter.

“I thought the difference in the third quarter was that we made shots,” Luke Judd said. “We kind of figured out how to attack their diamond-and-one (defense). We figured out where the weak spots were. We got them to buy in, in the third quarter, and we attacked the baseline and short corner. We put Deacon at the high post to attract guys and let CJ (Judd) and TJ (Luke) do damage on the baseline.”

CVA led 36-35 with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter when O’Neal drove the lane, made a layup and was fouled. He converted the old-fashioned three-point play at the foul line. The Thunder forced three turnovers and reeled off 13 straight points over the next two minutes to grab a 49-35 lead they would never relinquish. Lawless was also called for a technical foul during that span.

“There was a one-minute stretch after they had an and-one that was really the difference in the game,” RFA coach Nick Medicis said. “It was pretty much even the rest of the game. It could’ve gone either way.”

“They (CVA) are a well-coached, senior-laden team, that’s been around. They know what they want to do and how they want to do it,” Medicis added. “We had some shots that went in and out and they had some shots that went in. That’s basketball. It’s a game of runs and they had one more run than us.”

O’Neal scored 11 of his 27 points during the fourth quarter to seal the contest for the Thunder.

“Once Jaylon gets going in the open floor, he’s tough to stop,” Luke Judd said. “In the first half, I thought we made a couple of runs and I thought we were going to break it open, but they (RFA) always had an answer. They’re a good team, they’re real young. They’re going to be a problem in a couple of years. They’re like we were a couple of years ago.”

Hammon was a bright spot in the loss for the Black Knights as he scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half. RFA has only three seniors and three juniors on its 13-player roster.

“He’s not a traditional scorer. He’s more of a point guard,” said Medicis of Hammon. “We play with two point guards. He looks to facilitate more and in the first half he was trying to do that, but as the game went on he got more aggressive. He played really well and kept us in the game.”

The Thunder visit Oneida on Tuesday night at 6:30, while the Black Knights are home for Proctor, also on Tuesday night at 6:30.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here