ONEONTA — Jon Wingate was not the last man standing Saturday at Oneonta State, but that was sort of the plan.
Senior reserve guard Wingate took two charges in a 32-second span, setting up the last three points of Unatego’s 53-50 overtime defeat of Sidney as the Spartans successfully defended their Midstate Athletic Conference boys basketball championship.
“Right place, right time,” said Wingate, who played for Sidney in last season’s 43-39 MAC championship loss to Unatego. “I saw them coming and just stood there and hoped for the best.”
Wingate first stepped in front of a driving Damian Zimmer with 41.3 seconds left, giving Unatego (14-4) possession with the score tied at 50. Zimmer fouled out and for a moment, it seemed as if his replacement — senior reserve Austin McCarroll — would own the play of the game.
McCarroll poked the ball away from Tanner Winchester inside the circle for what appeared to be a sure Unatego turnover. But Wingate dived into the loose ball and knocked it to teammate Quinn Barnhart, who made an easy bank shot for a 52-50 lead with 27 seconds to go.
“The key one down there was … McCarroll knocks the ball loose playing good defense on Winchester, we get beat to the loose ball and they get an easy layup,” said Sidney coach Mike Brazee, whose program won the 2011 MAC crown with a 48-36 victory over Unatego. “That was the game right there.”
After a timeout, the Warriors (16-2) went right back to the paint and got the ball to Joe Matzel. Already with game-highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds, the senior center twisted to square up to the basket and sent the cement-footed Wingate crashing to the ground with 9 seconds left.
“He knows what to do,”
Unatego’s Tyler Butler said of Wingate, who returned to the floor when the senior swingman fouled out with 2:43 to go. “He stepped up big and took two charges right at the end. You couldn’t ask for anything more.