Cooperstown's Jack Lambert was named the 2018-19 Class C boys basketball Player of the Year Wednesday by the New York State Sportswriters Association.
"It is really nice, and a great honor," Lambert said Wednesday in a phone conversation with The Daily Star from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where he was on spring break. "It is really a great way to cap off the year."
Lambert, a shooting guard, scored 648 points in his senior season while leading Cooperstown to its first state championship in boys basketball. He also had 184 rebounds, 130 assists and 98 steals his senior year. He scored his varsity-high, 53 points, March 16 in the Hawkeyes semifinal win over Greenport in Binghamton, which was a tournament record, and nearly a school record, too. Tyler Bertram scored 55 in a regional championship loss to Moravia in 2017.
Lambert scored 23 points March 17 in the state final win over Middle Early College in Binghamton, and was named the Class C Tournament MVP. He was also the Section Three Class C Tournament MVP.
He said he has not picked a college, yet, but he intends to play college basketball, and will pick soon based on fit and playing potential.
"(Recruiting) has picked up slightly since (the state championship)," Lambert said. "Scoring 53 in the semifinals certainly helped."
Lambert becomes the third basketball player in Cooperstown history to be named the Class C Player of the Year, following Bertram, who was a co-winner in 2016-17, and Liz Millea, who the girls award in 2014-15 and 2016-17.
"We've been so successful in basketball this decade, in both the boys and girls side," he said.
A four-year varsity starter, Lambert played three seasons for Dave Bertram before his father, John Lambert, took over as Cooperstown's varsity coach this season.
"He is a great coach," Lambert said. "He has always been a little bit harder on me than my teammates, but it paid off. It meant the world to me to win the state championship this year with him."
Lambert will leave Cooperstown as the second leading scorer in program history, with 1,734 points. Bertram scored 1,897 in three varsity seasons. He also finished his career second in assists at CCS, with 405, two behind Bertram; first in steals with 196; and second in made three-point baskets with 245 (Bertram had 263). Lambert and Bertram are also tied for the most three-point baskets made in a game with 10; Lambert set his half of the record as a freshman against Clinton in 2016.
In addition to the state title, Cooperstown won three Section Three Class C titles with Lambert starting, the most titles ever for a boys basketball player at the school. His team's 84 wins during his varsity career is also a school record. Cooperstown went 25-2 in 2018-2019.
"My dad did reiterate to us at the beginning of the year that we could be state champions," he said. "We are such a tight group of guys. We knew we could be playing for a state title."
The championship gave the program closure after a lot of close calls this decade, including a trip to the final four in 2012 that ended with last-second, game-changing foul call in the semifinals, two losses to Moravia in the regional finals and a failed comeback against Tully in the section finals in 2018 that ended with Lambert missing a potential game-winning three-point basket.
"I have been there for all those moments," he said. "We were kind of on the wrong end of things a couple of times. It kept us going this year, especially in the Utica (Academy of Science) game (for the section title, March 3 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse). We knew the season could come to an end, and we looked at each other like, 'there is no possible way we want to lose and have our season come to an end against these guys.'"
Lambert, who was Class C seventh team in 2017-18 and eighth team in 2016-17, was not the only local player, or Hawkeye, named all-state Wednesday. His teammate, sophomore John Kennedy, made the Class C sixth team and senior Noah Lifgren made honorable mention.
The team Cooperstown beat in the regional final, Unadilla Valley, was also well-represented on the list. Senior Andrew Jackson made second team and senior Levi Rifanburg made the ninth team for UV, which won the Section Four Class C title for the second-straight year.
Other section four players to make the Class C list were: Dylan Jacob, sixth team, Walton; Conor Aikens, honorable mention, Delhi; and Alex Haight, honorable mention, Delhi.
In Class B, Oneonta placed two players on the list: Teddy McGraw made the 11th team and Graham Wooden made the 14th team.
In Class D, Edmeston sophomore Josh Martin had the highest listing, placing on the second team. In addition, Matt Murphy of Morris made the fourth team, Morris; Milford's Wynn Williams made the fifth team; Edmeston's Parker Robinson made the seventh team; and Seth Ashline, Logan Kaufman and Austin Lamport of South Kortright, Gavin Bonczkowski of Gilbertsville-Mount Upton and Cian Hall of Milford all received honorable mention.