Unatego’s boys rode a strong first half and a 21-point night by Quinn Barnhart to offset 35 points by Justin Hofer in a 64-56 Section Four Class C first-round basketball victory over visiting Unadilla Valley on Wednesday.
Hofer scored 13 points in the fourth quarter when the Storm crept as close as five points.
“He’s just a great player,” Unatego coach Jim Knight said of Hofer, a senior who has scored more than 1,000 points over four varsity seasons. “I was pulling my hair out all night. There were times when we were right on him and he still made shots. It’s not that we weren’t trying (to stop him). He shot a real high percentage tonight, too.”
The Spartans (15-4), champions of the Midstate Athletic Conference, bolted to a 38-24 lead at halftime.
“Our press bothered them a little bit,” Knight said. “We came out shooting well. (Tanner) Winchester and (Phil) Youngs hit threes in the first quarter.
“We talked it over at halftime and we said we knew they weren’t going to roll over and they didn’t,” he continued.
Winchester and Youngs finished with 13 points apiece. Winchester also finished with seven rebounds.
Youngs also hit four free throws in the fourth quarter to help repel the Storm’s rally.
As for Barnhart’s big night, which also included seven rebounds, Knight said he got hot when Storm big man David Dufresne went to the bench with foul trouble.
Kellen Komenda contributed eight assists and five points for the seventh-seeded Spartans, who will travel to second-seeded Watkins Glen on Saturday. Watkins Glen won the Interscholastic Athletic Conference Large-School championship over Whitney Point.
“They’re a really good half-court man-to-man defensive team and they’re a team,” Knight said. “They don’t rely on one guy. I think it will be a good game. We’re looking forward to making the trip.