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Herkimer Originals winding down second season on hardwood

Todd Dewan
Sports editor
Posted 2/16/23

The Herkimer Originals are in the midst of their second season in the American Basketball Association.

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Herkimer Originals winding down second season on hardwood


HERKIMER — The Herkimer Originals are in the midst of their second season in the American Basketball Association.

The Originals, who are playing a 19-game schedule in the semipro league, lost to their rival Springfield 413 Elite 124-105 on Saturday night in a hard-fought game at Herkimer College. The hosts trailed 83-80 after three quarters, but were outscored 41-25 in the decisive fourth quarter.

“We beat them in a buzzer-beater at their gym earlier this season,” Herkimer Originals owner Scott Flansburg said. “We knew it would be a close game. We had two starters out and two others injured. We were shorthanded and just ran out of gas.”

With the loss, the Originals dropped to 9-5 overall, while Springfield improved to 11-5. Going into the contest, the Originals were ranked 14th out of 140 ABA teams and the 413 Elite were ranked 16th.

“The goal is to beat them in the playoffs. It will probably be us and them in the first round. We’ll go down there and give it our best shot,” said the Herkimer native Flansburg. “There are eight regions and 16 teams per region in the playoffs. Last year, we made the final four in the northeast. We’re right there.”

Flansburg, who is known for being “The Human Calculator,” is in the Guinness World Records for doing calculations so fast in his head. The 59-year-old and others formed the Herkimer 9 Foundation that is trying to get the village of 7,234, according to the 2020 U.S. Census, recognized for its role in the development of the game of basketball in the late 19th century. The Herkimer 9 Foundation has uncovered archives and has evidence that shows basketball being created and played in Herkimer by a 16-year-old volunteer YMCA director and Swedish immigrant named Lambert Will. In March of last year, Herkimer native Brion Carroll and sports historians George and Darril Fosty wrote a book called “Nais-MYTH,” that details the evidence that Lambert Will and not James Naismith, was the inventor of the game of basketball.

“The whole purpose of starting this team was to prove the matter of the origin of basketball was here in Herkimer. The first game, first rim and first net was here in Herkimer,” Flansburg said. “Last week 132 years ago the first basketball game was played in Herkimer. Lambert Will is officially nominated for the (Naismith Memorial) Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2023 and the first round of voting comes out on Friday.”

Grandson Larry Will, who is a native of Nelson and now resides in Georgetown, was in attendance Saturday night along with other family members.

“History comes from his story,” said Larry Will, who was 8-years-old when his grandfather died.

Flansburg said the Will family attends every home game and “they’re huge fans.” Herkimer Mayor Mark Netti has proclaimed every Feb. 7 would be Lambert Will Day.

“We have evidence that proves basketball was invented by Lambert Will from the Herkimer, NY, YMCA in December 1890 and that the first game was played on Feb. 7, 1891,” Flansburg said. “According to the Springfield story, the first basketball game was played on Jan 20., 1892.”

Flansburg said a 1952 book by Frank J. Basloe called “I Grew Up with Basketball” kicked off his interest to start the Herkimer 9 Foundation.

“Lambert did it all in Herkimer and is buried in Herkimer,” Flansburg said. “We want to revitalize the village that played a role in the origin of basketball.”

The Originals’ 15-man roster includes players familiar to the area. Leading the way is captain and Barneveld native David Golembiowski, who is a Holland Patent graduate and career record holder for points, three-pointers, rebounds and blocked shots at then-SUNYIT. The 6-foot-8 forward, who played in Germany from 2011-18 scored 16 points on Saturday night.

Utica native and Mohawk Valley Community College graduate Lavoy Leggett Sr. led the Originals against the 413 Elite with 31 points.

Also on the roster are Utica natives Sean Burton, Nigel Dunkley and Jvon Evans; New York Mills natives Terry Nichols and 6-foot-10 forward Matt Welch, who played at the University of The Cumberlands; and 6-foot-8 Whitesboro native Josh Gregory, who played at SUNY Poly. Burton, who played at Ithaca College after graduating from Notre Dame High School, was inducted into the Greater Utica Sports Hall of Fame last fall.

Three players on the team have ties to Herkimer College. Gloversville native Matt Baldwin played at Herkimer and then transferred to Utica College; New Hartford native Reggie German played at Herkimer and Utica; and Yonkers native Derek Felder also played for the Generals.

The roster also includes Justin Mayers, a Hasting on Hudson native who played at Utica College; Syracuse natives Jordan Fragale, who played at SUNY Delhi and Mark Westbrook Jr., who played at SUNY Oswego; and Plant City, Florida, native Gio Diaz.

The Originals have three games remaining in the regular season. The team travels to Providence, Rhode Island, for an 8:30 matchup Saturday night. Herkimer then hosts Burlington at 7 p.m. on Feb. 25 at Notre Dame High School in Utica and is home for Bennington at 7 p.m. on March 4 at Herkimer College.


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