BINGHAMTON — At first it was too much, then it was too many.
Jack Lambert tied for the game high with 24 points, 10 of them in the first quarter, and seven Cooperstown players scored as the Hawkeyes used their depth to defeat Unadilla Valley, 61-46, Sunday in the Class C boys basketball state quarterfinals.
“We came out with energy and we wanted this game so, so badly,” Lambert said. “I like playing in this arena, and I had it going early. That opens it up for everyone else.”
After getting 15 first-half points from Lambert and leading by as many as 15, Cooperstown relied on points from four players in a 13-7 third-quarter run after UV cut the deficit to six. Lambert started the surge with a 3-pointer before Calvin Sandler scored five points and John Kennedy made two free throws.
Spencer Lewis later hit a triple of his own to boost the deficit back to 39-27 at halftime.
“We all just trust each other and at any point any of us can make plays,” Sandler said. “It’s the same thing, for everyone.”
UV made another surge to open the fourth, cutting the deficit to nine after Jackson intentionally missed before scoring, plus a foul, on the putback.
However, Ryan Lansing answered with five points, and Lambert hit a 3-pointer to extend the difference back to 17.
“They had guys step up last time we played them and hit threes. Lansing did. Lewis did again,” UV coach Matt Osborne said. “That’s what good teams do. When you shut down their main scorers, other guys step up and score. That’s what they did tonight.”
Eight quick points from Jackson returned the deficit to single digits, 50-41, with less than three minutes remaining, but a pair of transition baskets from Lansing, the second on a baseball pass from Sandler, made the deficit 14 with about a minute left.
“That’s our game plan. Everybody thinks it’s gonna be Jack Lambert, and Jack is a talented player. We rely on him for lots of things,” Cooperstown coach John Lambert said. “But we’ve preached all year long that when all five or six or seven, however deep we go, maybe nine, are playing together, we are really, really good. Without that, we’re not.”
UV needed all 18 of Jackson’s second-half points as Cooperstown opened a 12-4 lead after the first quarter. Lambert hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored the first 10 points of the game for Cooperstown, also dishing out an assist to Noah Lifgren for the other Cooperstown basket of the quarter. Levi Rifanburg scored all four of UV’s points.
“The first 45 seconds against UAS at the Carrier Dome were a real wake-up call, because we hadn’t had that happen to us all year,” Lambert said. “Jack wasn’t going to allow that to happen tonight. He kinda put us on his shoulders to start a little.”
The Hawkeyes stretched the lead to 19-4 early in the second before the Storm responded. Jackson hit five free throws, two of them coming after a technical foul on Jack Lambert, in an 8-0 run for UV.
Lambert hit a jumper later in the period and Sandler closed the half with a runner to give Cooperstown a 23-12 edge entering halftime.
Lambert had 15 points at halftime to lead all scorers.
Unadilla Valley went 3-for-23 from the field in the first half.
“Cooperstown definitely shot the ball better than we did. Especially in the first half, we couldn’t buy a basket,” Osborne said. “We did the things we wanted to do, we just couldn’t get the ball in the basket.”
Lambert made six of 10 from beyond the arc and totaled a 9-for-17 mark from the field for his 24. He completed his double-double with 10 rebounds with three assists.
Sandler finished with 12 points. Lansing had 10. Lifgren scored six. John Kennedy had four with a game-high 15 rebounds.
UV’s seniors led the way, with Jackson tying Lambert for the game high in his final high school game. He went 12-for-14 from the foul line to total 24.
Fellow seniors Rifanburg and Wyatt Grey scored 14 and eight, respectively, and Rifanburg led the Storm with 14 rebounds. No other UV player scored.
The defeat marks the second consecutive season UV (19-6) has won the Section IV title and fallen in the state quarterfinals.
“They’ve done it all for us the past three years. They’ve had a lot of pressure on them and I think they felt it today,” Osborne said. “Other guys didn’t really play as well as they should have. They weren’t confident with the ball, and that put even more pressure on those guys.”
The Hawkeyes (21-2) advance to Saturday’s semifinals against Greenport of Section XI. Tip is scheduled for 10:45 a.m., again at the Floyd L. Maines Arena in Binghamton.
“We’ve all worked so hard. I really think we deserve this,” Sandler said.
“We will see what happens,” Jack Lambert said. “We’re just hoping it’s a great weekend next week, we’re excited.”
Cooperstown 61, UV 46
Class C Boys Basketball Quarterfinals
Floyd L. Maines Arena, Binghamton
Cooperstown …… 12 11 16 22 - 61
Unadilla Valley …… 4 8 15 19 - 46
Cooperstown (21-2): Ryan Burns 0 0-0 0, Jesse Furnari 0 0-0 0, John Kennedy 1 2-2 4, Jack Lambert 9 0-1 24, Ryan Lansing 4 1-2 10, Spencer Lewis 1 0-0 3, Noah Lifgren 2 2-3 6, Kyle Meyer 0 0-0 0, Calvin Sandler 4 3-4 12, Kyle Santello 0 2-2 2, Ben Tafuro 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 21 10-14 61.
Unadilla Valley (19-6): Wyatt Grey 3 0-0 8, Andrew Jackson 5 12-14 24, Dylan Nichols 0 0-0 0, Cameron Osborne 0 0-0 0, Caleb Parker 0 0-1 0, Timmy Postma 0 0-0 0, Levi Rifanburg 5 4-6 14. TOTALS 13 16-21 46.
Three-point field goals: C 9 (Lambert 6, Lansing, Lewis, Sandler); UV 4 (Jackson 2, Grey 2).