By Jeremy Menard
Recently on ESPN Ithaca’s Between the Lines, host Jeremy Menard spoke with Newfield Boys Basketball’s Stephen LaBarge and discussed his team’s Class “D” State Semifinal victory over Harrisville. In the victory, the junior scored 26 points on 44 percent shooting from the field. His performance earned him recognition as ESPN Ithaca’s Fueling Excellence Male Athlete of the Week. Here is a snippet of that conversation; to hear the full interview, visit ESPN Ithaca’s on-demand PodCenter at ESPNIthaca.com.
Jeremy Menard: Stephen, I know the season didn’t end the way you wanted, but all of the wins and advancing to the state championship for the first time since 1986, it was a banner year for Newfield. So looking back on everything, the whole season, what are you most proud of?
Stephen LaBarge: I think I’m just most proud of how me and my fellow teammates fought through adversity and worked hard enough and got the end result that we were looking for and got to the championship, but fell short. I just feel like overall, it was a great team effort and worth all of the hard work.
JM: What was that process like for you? The hard work, you mentioned the adversity, overcoming it this season.
SL: Definitely, I think people, after losing Cole Banfield, I think people had some high expectations showing that we had four returning guys. So, I feel like we lived up to the expectation and showed that we were still a team to compete with.
JM: So you’re saying despite losing Cole Banfield, people still had high expectations for this season?
SL: Yeah, just showing that how we only lost one senior and showing that four other kids are still returning with experience helped us a lot.
JM: You talked about what you’re most proud of and all of the hard work and stuff. On a list of personal accomplishments, what you’re most personally proud of, it has to be that state semifinal game, 26 points. What was working for you?
SL: Driving was working a lot, which freed up my game to shoot and feed Quintel (Clements) who kept kicking it out which freed up my three-point game. I think I’m just really proud of how my offense this year went.
JM: How special was it to have a game like that, 26-points, state final four, on your birthday?
SL: Yeah, that was so far the best birthday I’ve ever had.
JM: What shot of yours from that game, your performance sticks out in your mind?
SL: It’s where Quintel gave me a dribble hand-off and I may not have had the most space to shoot, but I still pulled it, because I was feeling it and it just solidified that alright my offense game is clicking and let’s see if I can continue it.
JM: Describe for me the emotion of playing on that stage, of course you rose to the occasion. State final four weekend. Floyd L. Maines Arena in Binghamton. Good crowd. What was that like?
SL: The best part was just seeing our whole community come together and support us and what we’re doing. I’ve never seen something like that before and it was a pretty amazing thing to see.