The Newburgh Free Academy boys’ basketball team had a chance to clinch a berth in the Section IX Class AA tournament with a win on Thursday night against Monroe-Woodbury.
A heart-breaking four-point loss meant the Goldbacks would have to put off clinching two days until they played the Valley Central Vikings in their final home game of the season.
They accomplished the mission on Saturday afternoon with a 63-47 win over the Vikings.
Caleb Simmons scored 20 points and Zach Barnes added 13.
Dan Ferrond scored 16 points for the Vikings (3-17) and Kameron John added 10.
However, during Thursday’s game against the Crusaders, no one controlled the contest, but with the Goldbacks trailing by a point, Rob Vacco ran the ball down the court on a fast break and put the Crusaders ahead for good with a basket. He was fouled on the way up by Newburgh’s Caleb Simmons, giving Vacco an extra shot.
He knocked that down, giving Monroe-Woodbury a two-point lead.
“We knew he was lefty,” Newburgh coach Matt Brown said. “We tried to force him right and we just had some breakdowns and didn’t execute.”
The Crusaders added two more foul shots by John McCormick with 0.2 seconds left in the game for a 60-56 win.
Vacco scored a game-high 21 points for the Crusaders (10-9, 3-5 OCIAA-I), who themselves clinched a berth in sectionals with Thursday night’s victory.
The Crusaders finished the regular season on Saturday afternoon against Burke Catholic.
Zach Barnes gave the Goldbacks (10-10, 0-8 OCIAA-I) a late 56-55 lead with 2:28 left in the game on a three-point basket. He finished the game with a team-high 17 points.
“I thought we started off a little slow. We missed some shots in the second half and we just couldn’t get stops when we needed to.”
By Mike Zummo