“Anytime I get on the court, I’m happy,” said Graham Wooden, a former Section 4 basketball star for Oneonta High School. After recently transferring to SUNY Oneonta from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania this fall, he has hit the ground running.
“We’re happy to have him in the program,” said Red Dragons coach Cameron Conover. According to Conover, SUNY Oneonta had been recruiting Wooden during his time at OHS, telling the 5’11” guard he was always welcome to come play despite choosing Mansfield.
Wooden missed his first college season in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an experience he described as “tough and unfortunate,” though recognizing the struggles of friends and family during that period provided him some perspective in retrospect.
INDUCTION – 1:30 p.m. Join the Baseball Hall of Fame for the 2022 Induction ceremony of this years class of baseball greats including player David Ortiz, Golden Days Era Committee electees Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso and Tony Oliva and Early Baseball Era Committee electees Bud Fowler and Buck O’Neil. Lawn seating is free. On the Lawn of the Clark Sports Center, Cooperstown. 607-547-7200 or visit baseballhall.org
MIDDLEFIELD — As summer began and COVID regulations eased, Clark Sports Center Assistant Athletic Director Scott Whiteman started getting more activity on his phone. It was the basketball athletes checking on open gym status.
“We couldn’t practice the last week of school, because it was finals,” said Piper Seamon, a 2020 Cooperstown Central School graduate and college basketball player at Hamilton College in Clinton.
“So, I was texting Scott a week before I got home, ‘Are you open? Can I work out?’”
In the off seasons of many sports, athletes go back to their college campuses to work with old trainers or scrimmage with young recruits. Around Otsego County, elite basketball players congregate at the Clark.
When Jack Lambert graduated from Cooperstown Central School, he was second on the boys’ basketball program’s career scoring list and as a senior had led his team to the school’s first-ever Class C state championship in boys basketball, while earning Most Outstanding Player honors after setting several state tournament scoring records. He was also named the NYSPHAA Class C Player of the Year in 2019.
However, when he arrived to play for the men’s basketball team at the University of Scranton, he was just another freshman player trying to earn some playing time for a perennial Division III powerhouse.
“It’s definitely a transition. I mean, I am proud of all the things I accomplished in high school, and that was awesome,” Lambert said. “But when you get to college, especially at a very competitive Division III level, it’s a whole new ballgame.”
When Cooperstown Central School’s all-time leading scorer in basketball, Tyler Bertram, decided to transfer from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, he said he was looking for a better fit, a bigger role and an opportunity to play closer to home.
He found all three with Binghamton University men’s basketball team during the 2020-2021 season.
After finishing his high school career at Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, Vermont, Bertram spent two years in Charlotte; the first a redshirt season during which he said he added 20 pounds to bulk up his slender 6-foot 3-inch frame. In the second, as a redshirt freshman, he appeared in 12 games for the 49ers averaging 9.3 minutes per game.
“Coming back close to home was important, but finding the right fit was very important,” Bertram said. “The previous situation just didn’t really feel like it was the right spot and then knowing that Binghamton played really fast and like to shoot a lot of threes, I knew that I could kind of be myself here.”
“I made the mistake of not fully understanding what kind of style it was going to be (in Charlotte),” Bertram said. “I thought the change went really well. It was a fun year. The team was great. I just had a lot of fun playing fast and playing with some confidence again.”
COOPERSTOWN – CCS junior John Kennedy landed on the Class C 2nd team NYSSWA all-state boys basketball team. Kennedy averaged 17.3 points a game and led the Hawkeyes to the Section 3 Class C championship game this season.
Edmeston’s Josh Martin was also a 2nd team selection for Class D. Martin, a junior. averaged 22 points a game and helped the Panthers win their second consecutive Tri-Valley League title this season.
Oneonta’s Graham Wooden was selected third team in Class B. Wooden, a senior, was the ‘Jackets team leader averaging 21.2 points a game. He will play basketball next season for D2 Mansfield University.
ST. PATRICKS DINNER – 4 – 7 p.m. Enjoy Corned Beef & Cabbage dinner, performance by Irish Step Dancers hosted by The Knights of Columbus. Take-out encouraged. Free, Donations accepted. St. Mary’s Parish Center, 31 Elm St., Cooperstown. 607-437-4626 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
PANCAKE BREAKFAST – 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Sugaring Off Sundays include pancake breakfast with fresh maple syrup, demonstrations and tours of the Farmers Museum. The Farmers Museum, 5775 Route 80, Cooperstown. Info, www.farmersmuseum.org.
Growing up, John Lambert always had a ball in his hand.
“My dad, Paul Lambert, coached Cooperstown basketball, 1958-64,” he said. “And I want to do the same thing for my son.”
The CCS Redskins are now the Hawkeyes, but some things stay the same.
Like his father, John Lambert is coaching the CCS team.