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SUNY New Paltz Men’s Basketball Claims First Ever SUNYAC Title

Updated: Mar 13

Oswego Sports Information

For the first time in the program’s history, the New Paltz Hawks Men’s basketball team are SUNYAC Champions! Defeating the reigning two-time SUNYAC Champions in the No.5 Oswego Lakers 85-80 in a fought-out battle in the Lakers who defeated New Paltz the last two years in the semifinal round.

The first half was a back-and-forth battle between two hard-nosed gritty teams that was as competitive as possible. The Hawks had the momentum for the majority of the first half, but the Lakers would not let up and continued attacking, including a momentum-carrying three from the Lakers guard Jeremiah Sparks (who finished with a team-high 22 points) to help give the Lakers some momentum going into halftime down 45-41.

The second half saw the Lakers carry the Sparks buzzer-beating momentum-shifting shot to end the first half into the second, as they would end up leading by as much as 14 in the game, starting the second half on a blistering 11-0 run.

However, the Hawks stayed poised. Led by their veteran leaders in guard Rylan Blondo (16 points), and Sean St. Lucia (13 points), as well as the big man down low in Kobe Bogart, who finished with a dominating performance with a game-high 29 points and seven rebounds to go along with two steals.

The Hawks leading scorer all season, AJ Knight struggled in the first half to get going but made timely shots and plays in the second half to help get his team back into the game.

The Lakers had no answer for Bogart who punished them down low, as well as hit some big threes in crucial moments such as with three minutes to go off the Alex Krupinski assist to push the Hawks lead 76-68.

However, the Hawks couldn’t celebrate just yet as Lakers guard Julien Crittenton hit back-to-back layups of two consecutive Hawks turnovers (one off an in-bounce play) with about 2:30 to go to make it a 76-72 ball game.

The pressure was on now. It’s where legends are made and rise in the big moments. Who wants it more? Down the stretch, the Hawks made some big plays from St. Lucia drawing a charge on Sparks which led to a pivotal Lakers turnover, to Knight and Bogart hitting key free throws to help make a potential Laker miracle unlikely.

In the end, the Hawks showed their true resiliency, grit, composure, and team-first mindset as this was a true team effort to overcome a team in the Lakers who have dominated SUNYAC the last few years as the two-time defending conference champions.

From Dakoda Smith’s energy on defense to St. Lucia and Blondo's controlled tempo of the offense to Bogart’s dominant presence as an inside-out big, it took all of that and then some to be a great Lakers team.

Bogart, Lucia, Knight, and Blondo would be named to the SUNYAC All-Tournament team, with Bogart being named tournament MVP after a masterful performance.

In the end, this is huge for the program, as this marked not only the first time the program has won the SUNYAC title, but the first time they even reached the championship game since 2003.

It also marks the first championship in New Paltz Hawks Men’s Basketball Coach Keith Kenney’s tenure with the team since taking over in 2017 and finally reaching his goal of a SUNYAC title as he has turned the program around.

This win marked the first 20-win season in the program's history and earned them an automatic bid to dance in the NCAA Tournament- their first on the national stage, with their opponent set to be determined on Monday.

Congrats to my former Alma Mater and let’s go Hawks!


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