The Worcester 78s opened the second half of their season on January 5, by hosting the Oneonta Octanes at the Wellness Center in what was also their First Responders Night. Worcester came out on top, 127-117.
Sean McCarthy began the scoring for the 78s, as he scored a layup passed the tall Oneonta forward and SUNY Potsdam graduate, Colin Peterson. Worcester played Oneonta tough on defense in the opening minutes of the game, as the Octanes missed a basket on their next four possessions following McCarthy’s basket.
Scott Tavares-Taylor then gave Worcester their first lead of the night as he scored a three-pointer to make it 5-3.
Oneonta would quickly respond with a three-pointer of their own to retake the lead for the moment, but Lee Vazquez would return the favor and hit another three-point basket to make it 8-6 Worcester.
Oneonta then hit two free throws to make it 10-8. However, Worcester would get three consecutive offensive rebounds on their next possession down the court before Maurice Horton made a layup to make it 12-8.
Both teams would go back and forth throughout the first quarter, which would end with Worcester leading by a thread, 28-27.
The second quarter began with Worcester struggling to get a rebound after Oneonta shots. The Octanes eventually made a basket to take the lead 30-28, to start the scoring in the second.
Tavares-Taylor would then foul Oneonta guard Matt Baldwin, who proceeded to make both free throws, which made the score 32-28.
Damian Zimmer would then make a layup for Oneonta to increase their lead to six. Worcester would score their first points of the second on another Longwell three-pointer, which made it 34-31 Oneonta.
Longwell would then capture an assist, as he found Horton right below the basket on the next Worcester possession. Horton fought his way passed the defending Octane and scored a layup, to pull Worcester to within one.
Baldwin would respond with a three-point basket to make it 37-33 Oneonta, but Tavares-Taylor found Horton charging down the court and passed the ball all the way down to him. Horton caught the pass and made the layup to make it 37-35.
Baldwin again responded as he charged and made a layup on the next possession to make it 39-35, but Vazquez found Tavares-Taylor in the corner wide open. Tavares-Taylor easily made the three-point basket to pull the 78s to within a point.
Worcester however continued to struggle defensively, as the Octanes scored another field goal and were fouled two more times. They made all of their free throws, and all of a sudden, the 78s were staring at an eight-point deficit with 7:43 to play in the quarter.
Horton though kept the 78s in the game as he made an and-1 layup. Horton would make the extra point to cut the deficit down to five.
Naadir Tharpe then made a three-pointer to make it 46-44 Oneonta. After the Octanes missed a shot on their next possession, Tony Gallo passed the ball down the court to Vazquez, who made the layup, and just like that the 78s tied the game at 46.
Halftime would come with the score tied at 61 apiece.
Baldwin continued to give the 78s a hard time, as he started the scoring in the third quarter with a three-point basket. Horton though continued to give the Octanes a hard time as he scored another and-1 layup at the 10:17 mark of the third.
Horton missed the layup but got the rebound, and Tavares-Taylor eventually scored a layup.
Vazquez was later fouled for the 78s and made both free throws to make it 70-69 Oneonta.
With a little over eight minutes to go in the quarter, Baldwin made yet another three-point basket from just above half court. A minute later though, Horton reciprocated by making another layup after receiving a long pass up court from Vazquez.
Both teams continued to battle back and forth for the rest of the quarter, but in the end, it was Worcester again leading by only a thread, 93-92.
The fourth quarter began with Oneonta scoring an and-1 layup to make it 94-93. The free throw was missed though, and the 78s made the Octane pay, courtesy of Horton who continued his brilliance inside the paint. Horton made another and-1 basket and free throw to make it 96-94 Worcester.
Baldwin was then fouled for Oneonta on their next possession and made both shots to tie the game at 96. However, the Octanes continued to have foul troubles and gave Gallo an and-1 basket and layup, to make it 99-96.
Eventually, the 78s began to put some distances between themselves and the Octanes as they went on a run, to jump ahead 111-98.
The deficit became too much for the Octanes and the 78s went on to win 127-117 to open the second half of the season. Horton had a double-double on the night as he finished with 23 points and 18 rebounds.