CCS Hawkeye Ben Tafuro, Kyle Myer, Spencer Lewis and Ryan Burns (top photo) share cheers with enthusiastic fans – there may have been up to 1,000 – who gathered around the flagpole at Main and Pioneer a half-hour ago to welcome home the team that’s won the first-ever state basketball title for Cooperstown. On the aerial ladder behind the Cooperstown Fire Department’s 1952 vintage Mack firetruck, (center photo) a gleeful Noah Lifgren is flanked by MVP Jack Lambert, left, and Kyle Santello, right, bearing trophies from their win. Coach John Lambert (lower photo) gets off the school bus from Binghamton in the Blue Lot and and hugs Fire Chief Jim Tallman, right, and Village Police Officer Terrell Silvera. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
BINGHAMTON – Hot on the heels of yesterday’s triple-overtime win against Greenport, the Hawkeyes made their 71-61 championship game against the Middle Early College Kats look easy, seizing a 10-point lead early on and never letting up.
“A game like yesterday can drain you emotionally, but when I got on the bus this morning and saw them I knew they were ready,” said Coach John Lambert.
“The energy from winning yesterday really carried over to today,” said sophomore John Kennedy. The 6-foot-8 team newcomer, who brought out plenty of cheers from the packed stands.
COOPERSTOWN – It took some time to get there, but there was no denying that basketball was in John Kennedy’s blood.
“My brother Owen, who graduated last year, played basketball for CCS,” said the sophomore center after the CCS Hawkeyes, beat the Unadilla Valley Storm 61-46 Sunday, March 10, to reach the state semi finals.
“My mom played in high school and college and my dad wrestled for Cooperstown,” said Cooperstown’s 6-foot-8 big man at center.
John had tried out for the JV basketball team when he was in eighth grade, but didn’t pass the state physical, and switched to wrestling instead.
“I loved wrestling so much,” he said. “I wanted to wrestle for all of high school. But this year, I found out I was too heavy to wrestle. So I went back to basketball.”
Kennedy, son of Owen and Mary (and nephew of county Rep. Meg Kennedy, C-Mount Vision), joined the summer league, and then the Hawkeyes that winter.
Cooperstown firetrucks greeted the CCS Hawkeyes’ boys and girls’ Varsity Basketball Teams at the village line this evening as they arrived back from state semi-finals in Binghamton. The boys, beating Unadilla Valley, advance to state championship Final Four play next Saturday. The girls, while their high-powered season ended this afternoon, advanced farther than any team since the girls won a state championship in 2016. Inset right is Barbara Lambert, grandmother of Hawkeyes’ guard Jack Lambert and head coach John Lambert; she was among those waiting on Main Street, Cooperstown, for the fire trucks to come by. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Cooperstown’s Lady Hawkeyes console each other after bowing to Watkins Glen, 60-49, in the state semifinals this afternoon at the Broome County Veterans Memorial in Binghamton. The girls had their best season since winning the state championship in 2015. At right, CCS’ Meagan Schuermann battles under the basket during this afternoon’s game. Check back: The Hawkeyes’ boys basketball team, are leading 23-12 at halftime, also in Binghamton. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
COOPERSTOWN – With their victory over Utica Academy of Science Atoms on Sunday, March 3, Hawkeyes’ basketball team Captain Jack Lambert has his dad beat.
“My team won sectional championship in 1985 and ’86,” the elder Lambert said. “But now Jack has one more on me!”
The boys will play Section IV champions Unadilla Valley in the state Class C quarterfinals on Sunday, March 10, at the Broome County Memorial Arena. “We beat them in December 48-45,” he said. “It was a low-scoring, close game, so we think this will be another tough contest.”
In Sunday’s nail-biter, the Hawkeyes beat the Atoms 61-57, taking the lead in the fourth quarter after dogging at the Atoms’ heels.
“Those first two baskets threw us off,” said Coach Lambert. “I gathered the team around and said, ‘This is going to be a grind.’”
At halftime, the Utica Academy of Science was up 34-27 in Utica’s favor. By the end of the third quarter, it was 46-40. With four minutes left, Jack Lambert tied the score.
Then it rose to 50 points. 52. 57 for Cooperstown with 30 seconds remaining. With eight seconds on the clock, Utica brought the score to 57.
Then Jesse Furnari sank the final two baskets to bring the Cooperstown boys to 61 points and win their 11th Section III championship, their third in four years.
“I’ve got goosebumps,” said Jack. “My voice is weak from screaming like crazy.”
The younger Lambert credited the long drills his dad made him run with their endurance out on the court. “We knew we had it,” he said. “We knew we could come back with that energy.”
“And when you had a kid like Ryan Lansing, his energy is limitless,” said John.
Following the game, Ryan was named to the all-tournament team, while Jack was named Most Valuable Player.
And dad John, in his first-year as head coach, was named Coach of the Year. “I didn’t know they would announce it there,” he said. “When I heard my name, I couldn’t believe it. I was so flattered.”
But they weren’t the only ones returning to Cooperstown with a championship.