Mackey did not coach in Oneonta’s 60-49 sectional semifinal victory over visiting Susquehanna Valley on Friday.
Brad Zeh, who’ll continue to take over for Mackey in Saturday’s Section Four Class B title game at 7 p.m. at the Broome County Arena, said he doesn’t expect Mackey to return this season.
“He’s been advised to shut it down totally,” said Zeh, Oneonta’s junior varsity coach the past 14 seasons. “No practice, no games or anything like that.”
Odero said the players were surprised when Mackey delivered the news.
“We didn’t think it could happen,” he said. “We just thought it was a bad flu, but it got serious quickly (when the team found out he had MS).”
Zeh and Odero said Mackey didn’t leave before giving his 17-2 squad some advice heading into Saturday.
“After Jerry broke the news to the kids, he gave a great speech about believing,” Zeh said. “After he spoke, you could tell the kids were believing even more.”
Added Odero: “He told us to play our hearts out. He told us not to rush anything, to just play well. I feel extra motivation. We have to win for him.”
Zeh also said Thursday that Oneonta’s leading scorer, junior Jordan Gutierrez, will not be in uniform for the third straight game. Mackey said following OHS’ 54-52 sectional quarterfinal win over Waverly, that Gutierrez had been suspended indefinitely.
Gutierrez is averaging 22.9 points.
As for facing a 19-0 Norwich squad, Zeh said: “They’re a good team and we have to play well to win, but we don’t have to play out of our minds. If everybody just does a little bit more than they’re used to and remembers to check out on every box out, to attack shooters and run them off the three-point line, then we’ll have a chance. We don’t have to beat them three out of five times, we only have to beat them once.”
Norwich, which has beaten the Yellowjackets by seven and 23 points this season, has four double-digit scorers led by Mike Sutton at 14.1. Zan Stewart (11.3), Mike Oralls (10.6) and Storm Cook (10.5) also average in double figures.
Odero leads OHS at 14.1 points per game. Seniors Paul Bischoff and George Foti are averaging 10.7 and 8.2 points, respectively.
Rob Centorani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.