Unadilla Valley 59, Unatego 48
ONEONTA – Unadilla Valley took the more difficult road to a championship, but the extra effort was well worth it.
The Storm won their first Midstate Athletic Conference title since going back-to-back in 2006-2007 beating Unatego for the second time in two weeks Saturday at Oneonta State’s Field House Gymnasium.
The Storm pulled away in the final minutes with solid free throw shooting, while the Spartans struggled from the charity stripe all night long.
"They just played mistake-free down the stretch," said Unatego coach Cal Locke, whose club was denied a third straight league championship. "We made a nice run in the fourth quarter, but didn't have the energy to sustain it."
Nate Shackleton pumped in a three with six seconds left in the third quarter giving UV a 40-36 lead entering the last stanza. To that point, neither club had led by more than six, though that would change in the first three minutes of the fourth. Nick White made four free throws and David Dufresne hit a pair of freebies raising UV’s lead to 46-36 with 5:13 left.
Over the next two minutes, the Spartans' desperation yielded quick results. Sparked by its full-court press, Unatego forced some turnovers, and back-to-back layups frm Kellen Komenda and Jared Jones sliced UV's lead to 46-45.
The Storm (14-4) settled down after a pair of Dufresne jumpers, buckets that led to a 14-3 closing spurt. "I think we just got a little too excited (when they made their run)," said UV coach Matt Osborne. "We handled their pressure a little better late in the game, and we took the ball to the basket."
Dufresne led UV with 22 points, Shackleton had 14, and White scored 11. After missing his first two free throws, White made the final nine. The Storm as a collective unit went 19-for-26 from the foul line, while Unatego was an abysmal 5-for-19.
"Our goal this year was to finish at the top of the league and we thought we had a good group," Osborne said. "We lost a couple of games early in the year and had to beat Greene on the road in the first round of the playoffs. It was the tougher road, but I think it made us a better team, and we'll be a better team heading into sectionals."
UV hosts Candor Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the first round of the Section IV Class C playoffs.
Unatego: Kellen Komenda, 6 1-6-15; Joel Van Alstine, 0; Corbin Henry, 0; Tanner Winchester, 9 3-7-21; Jon Forte, 2 0-0-5; Eric Hartshorn, 1 1-2-3; Shane Bucci, 0 0-4-0; Jared Jones, 2 0-0-4. Totals: 20 5-19-48.