West Hempstead's Isaiah Blunt attempts a shot on the basket...

West Hempstead's Isaiah Blunt attempts a shot on the basket in the New York State Class B Southeast Regional boys basketball final against Woodlands in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., on Saturday. Credit: Allyse Pulliam

YORKTOWN — This one felt so good and this one hurt so much.

Here were West Hempstead and Woodlands, two great basketball teams, squaring off for one ticket to the state final four in Glens Falls.

And here they were working overtime for it.

In the end, there was excitement on Woodlands senior forward Eric Woodberry’s face and in his voice, and there was pain on West Hempstead senior forward Anthony Graffeo-Jackson’s face and in his voice. And their teammates felt the same.

Woodberry scored 25 points, including six in OT, and his Section I championship team outlasted West Hempstead, 72-66, in the Class B Southeast Regional final Saturday night at Yorktown High School.

“I just wanted to win so bad, at least make it to the state final four,” Graffeo-Jackson said. “We came up short.”

It will be the 21-4 Falcons playing upstate Thursday night in those state semifinals.

“It’s great,” Woodberry said. “As a senior, this being my last year, I just feel really good. I know the team feels good. To think last year we didn’t even make it past the first round and now we’re going for a state championship.”

West Hempstead won one game in the 2021-22 season. These 2023-24 Rams took the program’s first Nassau title since 2003, won a Long Island championship for the first time, finished at 19-5 and just missed out on their chance to go for a state championship.

“It’s tough right now to sum it up, but I’m so proud of these guys,” second-year coach Eric Rubin said.

Isaiah Blunt led them with 28 points. Rubin praised the junior guard/forward and gave credit to his seniors, saying, “They’ve elevated the program to where the expectations are really high going forward thanks to them.”

Woodlands scored the first four points of overtime. Graffeo-Jackson got one back with a free throw. But Woodberry hit a bank shot in the lane and then scored on a layup off a turnover — 67-60, 1:40 left.

Blunt knocked down a three from the right corner to cut it to four. Jamison Stevens made a move inside to get it up to six.

Evan Wilson countered with a technical foul shot and Blunt converted a layup. The Falcons’ lead was down to 69-66 with 19 seconds remaining. Then Aaron Woodberry sank a free throw at 17.4 to make it a four-point game.

“You get so far and then it’s like everything just crumbles down,” Blunt said. “Overall it was a great season.”

Declan Cole nailed a three with about 50 seconds left in regulation to give the Rams a 59-57 edge. But Eric Woodberry scored from in close about 14 seconds later to force OT.

The game had been tight most of the way. Woodlands did manage to take a 48-40 lead early in the fourth. West Hempstead responded with a 10-2 run, tying it at 50.

“We were very sloppy, a lot of turnovers, just didn’t play our game,” Rubin said. “I thought we showed a lot of resiliency to battle back.”


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