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BOYS BASKETBALL: Fourth-quarter rally helps New Hartford earn back-to-back Section III titles

Ben Birnell
Sports writer
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Posted 3/5/23

A double-digit deficit didn’t rattle the New Hartford boys basketball team. 

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BOYS BASKETBALL: Fourth-quarter rally helps New Hartford earn back-to-back Section III titles


SYRACUSE — A double-digit deficit didn’t rattle the New Hartford boys basketball team. 

Trailing by 11 after three quarters of Sunday’s Section III Class A final against Central Square, New Hartford appeared to be headed for disappointment. 

However, the defending Class A state runner-up, turned up its aggressive play and ruffled the RedHawks. With it, things clicked for the Spartans in a wild 33-point fourth quarter.

Senior standout Zach Philipkoski scored 12 fourth-quarter points and sophomore Jameson Stockwell hit a few clutch shots to help No. 5 New Hartford rally for a thrilling 65-60 victory over No. 2 Central Square at SRC Arena to earn back-to-back Section III Class A titles. 

New Hartford coach John Randall called it a “classic basketball game.” He saw a few last year on the team's run to the state final last March.

“We created just enough havoc. It’s hard to play that way for four quarters, obviously. Thank God we had enough left in the tank to roll our through it. We got desperate,” Randall said. “Other than our will to get through it for the last four-and-a-half minutes, I thought (Central Square) did a great job. We’re fortunate. I don’t know if that (comeback) happens more than one out of 10 times and just for us to be able to hang in there like we did. It is a tribute to the team.”

Philipkoski, a top player in Class A, overcame a tough 8-for-25 shooting performance to finish with 24 points. Fellow senior Colton Suriano, who was part of the all-tournament team, added 16 points. Stockwell finished with 15, including a pair of crucial three-pointers in the fourth.

“We’ve had a lot of tough games (this season),” said Stockwell, noting New Hartford played a few opponents from other sections. “That has really helped us now because we’ve been down and it has helped us fight back.” 

New Hartford (14-10 overall) advances to play Section II champ Troy in a state regional semifinal at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Liverpool High School. The winner advances to play Section X’s Massena at 1 p.m. Saturday at Potsdam with a trip to the state final four on the line. 

New Hartford hung around much of Sunday for that to happen. Central Square seemed in control, including leading 33-23 at halftime. Trevor Boyce’s 14 points in the first -- including four 3-pointers – helped Central Square. The team led by as much as 13 in the third and had a 43-32 advantage going into the fourth. 

“We just had to keep coming back. We had to go out and push,” said Philipkoski, who was named the tournament Most Valuable Player after 37 points against Bishop Grimes in the semis and 29 against East Syracuse-Minoa in the quarters. “It wasn’t just me (Sunday). It was a team effort.” 

Randall made the decision to press in the fourth quarter, disrupting Central Square’s flow. 

“It’s not something we do often, but there was not much we can do. They are shooting the eyes out of it. We had to speed the game up,” Randall said. “You go all in and hope that you’re either going to win by four or five or you’re going to lose by 20.” 

Suriano opened the fourth with two free throws. Philipkoski followed with a steal and fed Sal Weller Jr. for a layup. Central Square’s Cameron Pownall's second dunk with 6:04 remaining made it 49-44. 

The Spartans turned it up from there. Suriano hit his second three of the quarter and Philipkoski put in his own miss to pull New Hartford within 51-49 with 4:48 remaining.

Following a defensive stop, Stockwell hit a 3-pointer to give New Hartford its first lead of the game at 52-51 with 4:18 to play.

Central Square’s Shane Bergquist responded by hitting a fadeaway and then converted a driving layup to put his team back up 55-52.

New Hartford had its own answer as Stockwell notched another three and Philipkoski drove to the hoop to give New Hartford a 57-55 lead with 2:01 remaining. 

New Hartford forced Central Square (17-6) into an off-target shot and then Philipkoski patiently dribbled out some of the clock before cutting through the defense for another layup. Weller then had a steal and lay-up of his own for a 61-55 lead.

Bergquist hit a 3 with 21.6 seconds left to make it 61-58. However, Philipkoski hit four free throws in the final 16.2 seconds to keep New Hartford ahead. He put an exclamation point on the affair by blocking a last-ditch, long-distance shot by Central Square.

It puts New Hartford back in familiar territory from last season, though the team lost some experience from that team that made it to the state finals. 

“Not a lot of people get to be champions in Section III,” Philipkoski said. “We get to go on and have a chance to do what we did last year.” 

Dolgeville tops Mount Markham

The Dolgeville boys basketball team topped Mount Markham 86-67 in the Section III Class C championship game on Sunday at SRC Arena.

Dolgeville made the sectional title game last year, but fell in the Class C game to West Canada Valley.

Dolgeville led 41-33 at halftime. The Blue Devils led 61-53 after three quarters.

Michael Blaskey led the way for Dolgeville with 24 points. TJ Rankins added 16, Brett Mosher had 15 and Kamryn Comstock finished with 13.

Dolgeville (23-1) advances to a regional round matchup against Moravia on Saturday at Memorial Arena in Binghamton.

Will Lunny finished with a game-best 34 points for sixth-seeded Mount Markham, which finished 17-7 overall. Jake Senko added 14 points.


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