BINGHAMTON – With every ounce of energy they had left in the tank, the Unadilla Valley boys basketball team gave all they had but fell short late in the fourth to the Cooperstown Hawkeyes in the New York State Class C quarterfinals at the Floyd L. Maines Arena Sunday afternoon. The Hawkeyes claimed the win with a final of 61-46.
Led by Jack Lambert’s 24 points, seven Cooperstown players registered in the scoring column throughout the contest. Most of those players stepped up when the Storm’s defensive efforts had shut down Lambert’s scoring.
UV’s Andrew Jackson also dropped 24 points, most coming late in the game when the Storm made a surge to cut the Hawkeyes lead down to single digits in the fourth quarter.
Lambert opened up the contest immediately with a curling jumper off a screen then followed with back-to-back 3-point field goals, deep from beyond the arc.
The Storm’s Levi Rifanburg scored the first two baskets for his team and was fouled on both but missed both chances at the foul line. The senior’s points were the only scored in the quarter while Cooperstown ran out to a 12-4 lead.
Unadilla Valley came around in the second quarter but not until after Noah Lifgren scored down low and Lambert drained yet another 3-pointer, pushing the Hawkeyes lead to 15 early in the stanza.
Following the made shot from long-range, UV’s head coach called a timeout to make an adjustment. His move was on the defensive end of the floor, switching to a 3-2 zone to limit Lambert’s looks as the Storm could cover more of the 3-point line that way.
It worked as Unadilla Valley made a run with Jackson’s trips to the the stripe and Rifanburg cleaning up the offensive boards with put-back finishes. The duo combined to score six points, which cut the Cooperstown lead down to seven points with 2:15 left in the half.
After being held to just a 3-point field goal in the opening minutes of the second, Lambert came around a screen to knock down a 15-footer to end his scoring drought and the Storm’s run. Teammate Calvin Sandler hit a runner down the middle of the lane to end the first half scoring at 23-12.
After the intermission, Rifanburg opened up the second half scoring with a rebounding finish after a Caleb Parker miss to once again bring the deficit under 10 points.
Enter Wyatt Grey for Unadilla Valley. Grey, who like most of his teammates had open looks behind the 3-point line in the first half of action, finally hit the first 3-point basket for the Storm with 6:16 left in the third.
His next trip up the floor ended the exact same way – with the official’s arms in the air signaling three. Grey’s second from behind the line chopped the lead down to a two possession game with less than four minutes left in the third.
But, back came the Hawkeyes’ leading scorer as Lambert answered Grey’s 3-point bucket with a corner money ball of his own.
Having an eye for where the ball was coming off the rim like he always has had, Rifanburg came away with two trips at the foul line due to offensive boards. Making all four shots from the line, Rifanburg kept the Storm within eight points with 2:34 left in the third...