Michael Nembhard

Newfield boys basketball head coach Michael Nembhard has led his players to the Final Four in the Class C state tournament.

Newfield is heading to the Class C Final Four after topping West Canada Valley 75–62 in the regional title game on March 12 at Liverpool High School.

Led by Jalen Hardison’s near quadruple-double (30 points, eight assists, 12 rebounds, and eight steals, and a pair of blocks to boot), the Trojans pulled away from their opponent in the second half to eventually win by double-digits.

Hot shooting from beyond the arc gave West Canada Valley an early lead of 11–5 within the first two minutes of the ballgame. Newfield pulled within one point of the lead with a three and a couple of free throws from Hardison. Around the three-minute mark, Hardison deflected a pass on defense, which was then recovered by Derek Pawlewicz, who handed it over in transition to Zachary Taylor who completed the sequence with a short baseline jumper that put the Trojans up for the first time in the contest at 12–11.

West Canada Valley regained its lead shortly thereafter when William Smith knocked down two attempts from the free throw line to make it 13–12. Brayden Shepardson extended the team’s lead with what should have been scored as a three pointer – replay showed Shepardson was multiple steps behind the three-point arc – but was recorded as two.

Newfield responded on its next possession when Pawlewicz bucketed a trey to knot the game at 15 all. Taylor rebounded West Canada Valley’s missed shot attempt on the ensuing offensive possession and took it all the way back himself for a layup to put the Trojans up by two. The squad would enter the second quarter up 18–15.

West Canada Valley worked its way back to tie the game again when Shepardson dropped another three to even the score at 22 apiece within the first two minutes of the quarter, though Newfield retook the lead on the following possession on a mid-range jump shot off the fingertips of Austen Jenney.

Both offenses went quiet for the next several minutes until Pawlewicz and Hardison each sank a three in the final minutes of the half to lengthen the Trojans’ advantage to eight. Smith converted a couple of baskets for West Canada Valley before halftime as Newfield led 30–26 at the break.

The score remained close in the opening minute of the third period, until Newfield went on an 18–0 run that put the team up by 20. Taylor’s triple off a feed from Hardison began the streak, increasing the Trojans’ lead to 36–31. Hardison drained a three thereafter, and then stole the ball from Camerohn Ludwig on West Canada Valley’s next offensive possession and laid it in for the deuce to make it a 10-point advantage.

After a layup by Jenney, Hardison scored the team’s next eight points. After nailing a three off a cross-court pass from Taylor to bring the score to 46–31, Hardison poked away the ball shortly after West Canada Valley inbounded. The loose ball rolled right to Taylor, who flung it back to Hardison for the easy bucket. Hardison later knocked down another three – his third of the quarter – as Newfield led 51–31 halfway through the quarter.

Connor Yager ended West Canada’s Valley scoring drought with a layup on the proceeding possession, but Newfield’s offense would not let up as the team finished the third quarter with a 60–39 lead. The Trojans led by as many as 25 points in the game.

West Canada Valley made a late run in the final few minutes of the fourth quarter, trimming the deficit to 13 before Newfield ultimately won by that amount.

Hardison was not the only Trojan to post a double-double in the game. Pawlewicz tallied 11 points and 11 rebounds by game’s end with four assists as well. Jenney was the team’s next leading scorer behind Hardison with 14 points. He also dished out three assists, grabbed six rebounds, and swiped two passes. Taylor logged 11 points, three assists, and three rebounds. Hezekiah McCoy chalked up six points, two assists, and three rebounds. Garrett Porter snagged eight rebounds and blocked three shots.

Newfield will play against Pierson, who will be coming off a victory over Hamilton, the top-seeded team in the Class C bracket, in the semifinals at 1 p.m. on March 18 at Cool Insuring Arena in Glen Falls. The winner of that game will compete in the finals against the winner of the second semifinals game between Stillwater and Salamanca. The finals will be held the following day at 7 p.m. at the same location.

Folks interested in watching the semifinal match between Newfield and Pierson can do so with a paid NFHS Network subscription. The game will be streamed on New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s (NYSPHSAA) account.

Sports Editor

Andrew is the sports editor as well as a news reporter for the Ithaca Times/Finger Lakes Community Newspapers. He also enjoys writing personal essays in his spare time.

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