By JOHN ANDERSON and BILL COLLMER
When the New York State Class D Player of the Year, Pacey Hopkins graduated, opponents looked at the Avoca/Prattsburgh roster and figured stopping Macoy Putnam would be an easy way to win.
The junior guard was the heir apparent to Hopkins. The other issue would be stopping senior Sawyer Devoe.
During the 2021-2022 season, the team started rolling through the regular season, but the whispers were the same. “Wait until they face a team with size.” The knock on A/P was no starters over 6-foot tall.
Devoe silenced those critics until the team faced Lyons, at the time, the No. 1 team in Class C in the state. After a 20-0 start, the question was sectionals. Make it 24-0. What about Far West Regionals? 25-0. Certainly, the states? 27-0.
This year, Devoe wasn’t sneaking up on anyone, and neither was Putnam. But they continued to shine.
In the Section V tournament, Putnam did what he’s done all year, find senior Haden Abbott to fill up the basket. For a while, it felt like Abbott was averaging close to 30 points a game.
The voters from the Section V committee took a lot of time watching games. On Saturday morning in the Class B2 finals, they awarded a defensive specialist, Aidan Riley of Wellsville, with all-tournament honors even though he scored two points in the finals and four in the semi-finals.
The same voters watched Putnam control the pace of the tournament. Fast, faster or half-court offense. They watched him thread the needle with passes, cross up defenders with his crossover and hand out assists left and right.
When he was named the tournament MVP on Saturday after a 93-67 win over Notre Dame of Batavia, his coach was pleased the voters noticed.
“A lot of times those honors come down to scoring alone, but obviously the people who vote on those things are basketball people and they see the whole picture,” said A/P coach Brian Putnam. “And it’s not just Macoy. They all share the ball well, there is not a selfish bone in them.”
Putnam did have his points in the finals, he just drove past his defender and scored 12 of his 16 on layups and completed an and-one. This season, Putnam has scored 329 points (14.3 average) and averages eight rebounds and almost five steals a game.
Devoe who was so close to 1,000 points in his career when sectionals started, is still 17 points shy. He made need two games to get it, but those wins keep racking up Devoe and Putnam have each won four straight Section V titles.
They play a much different game than their fathers, but they filled the shoes well.
Bill Collmer takes a look at the family in this piece called “Following in the Footsteps of Legends.”
By BILL COLLMER
PRATTSBURGH — When you drive through the small Village of Prattsburgh, if you roll your window down and listen real closely you can almost hear the Cheers Theme song playing, “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.”
If you mention the name Putnam or Devoe at Dillio’s Café in Prattsburgh everybody knows who you’re talking about.
Both Brian Putnam and Zac Devoe are legends in the Prattsburgh community from their days on the hardwood, State Champions in 1991, both Selected to the All-Tournament team.
And many other accolades followed.
Both scored over 1,000 career points in high school. Putnam is in the Section V Basketball Hall of Fame. Their older sons, Mason Putnam and Henry Devoe both carried on the tradition winning sectional of their own at Prattsburgh.
All Mason did was win two sectional championships, three Steuben County MVP Awards, Section Five Class D Tournament MVP’S and score a staggering 2,515 career points. That number puts him at 8th-best in New York State history for a career in all classes. He is almost a lock for a future induction into the Section Five Hall of Fame.
So where did that Leave Brian’s and Zac’s Youngest Sons Macoy and Sawyer? How could they possibly fill the shoes of not only their fathers but their older brothers now, too. So, what did Sawyer and Macoy do? They took the ball and ran with it, literally.
They were both pulled up to varsity for sectionals in 2020 and played five games. That court experience was invaluable as they played crucial roles in the sectional final victory against Elba.
In 2021, both played key roles in going undefeated and winning sectionals. During the 2021-2022 season, and without their older brothers, the question was, “Could they carry the team and lead them to another title and more?” The answer was “yes, yes, they could.” Putnam had 14 assists in five games in 2020. In the Covid-shortened 11-game season he had 42 assists.
During the state championship season last year, he broke the Prattsburgh school record for assists in a season with 202 coming just six short of Mike Wright’s Avoca record of 208. As a sophomore, Putnam already had 258 career assists. In 27 games as a sophomore, Putnam averaged 15.4 Points, 7.5 Assists, and 4.7 steals per game. He had nine double-doubles, and one triple-double, scored in double figures in 23 games and scored 20 or more points in six games. He had double digit assists in 12 games. He scored a season high 30 versus Jasper-Troupsburg in Prattsburgh and scored 28 points in the State Semi-finals. He had a career high 16 assists in the big win over Lyons in Victor. He was named the MVP of the Steuben County Tournament, a Steuben County First Team All-Star, Class D1 All-Tournament Team and MVP Of the State Final Four in Glens Falls.
Sawyer Devoe proved night-in and night-out that he was a force to be reckoned with in the post. Using his superior athletic ability, he left opposing coaches shaking their heads and his coaches smiling from ear-to-ear. As a junior, Devoe averaged 16.8 Points and 9.1 rebounds per game despite being outsized almost every game he dominated.
What a state championship season he had as well. Devoe had 11 double doubles, scored in double figures in 22 out of 25 games, and scored 20 or more points 9 times. He had a season high 18 rebounds versus Jasper-Troupsburg in Greenwood. He grabbed double digit rebounds in 11 games. He scored a season high 30 points with 15 rebounds in the State Quarterfinals versus Westfield. Devoe was a Steuben County First Team All-Star, was selected to the Steuben County All-Tournament team, A Class D1 Tournament All-Star and won the Sportsmanship award at the State Final Four in Glens Falls.
Not only have both lived up to legacies their fathers and brothers left in Prattsburgh, they’ve set the bar even higher.
Another state title this year? The bar this group of players is setting over this span may be unreachable for teams in the next decade.
Macoy isn’t one who likes the spotlight shined on him, but his play on the court keeps that spotlight shining bright.
Coach Brian Putnam credits each Avoca/Prattsburgh team the past three years for having success due to their chemistry and unselfish play.
They have a motto, “It’s Amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.”
This season, opposing fans during warmups see “we > me” on the shooting shirts. It’s simple math. The team is greater than the individual.
The number four is coming up big. Four more wins for a state title, four straight Section V titles and a chance for the four of them, dad’s and sons, to take another historic photo in Glens Falls.
Photos by STEVE HARRISON