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Friday, May 19, 2017: Cooperstown's Bertram leaving for Vermont school

   Leading off today: Cooperstown basketball star Tyler Bertram will leave the state to enroll in a Vermont prep school in the fall, he revealed Thursday on social media.

   Bertram, the New York State Sportswriters Association co-player of the year in Class C this season as a Hawkeyes junior, is heading to Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, where he will reclassify for the Class of 2019.

   He is Cooperstown all-time leading scorer with 1,879 points.

   "It's been awesome, especially with having my dad coach. Everything has been a dream come true. I've been lucky enough to have my best friends on the basketball team and the community has been fantastic too. It's just like a family," Bertram said. "The coaches (at Vermont Academy) treated me like family. The situation with me coming to play on the team was the best and I felt like they could develop me the most."

   More basketball: A somewhat crazy two years for Obi Toppin has turned into a great opportunity at the University of Dayton.

   Toppin arrived at Ossining as a junior, where he endured injuries and struggled with a growth spurt that would see him start 12th grade five inches taller and rail thin. He went on to average 20.6 points and 7.8 rebounds for the Pride as a senior, but major-college attention was lacking.

   On the verge of opting for junior college, he made a late decision to enroll at Mt. Zion Prep in Baltimore last fall, where he sprouted to 6-foot-9 and 200 pounds after adding 32 pounds with the help of weight training. Toppin averages 17 points and eight rebounds this season.

   Offers started materializing during the season, and Toppin became a target for Dayton, which has had to pick up the pieces after coach Archie Miller left to take the Ohio State job. The Flyers released several recruits -- including Nahziah Carter from Bishop Kearney in Rochester -- opening the door for new coach Anthony Grant to put scholarship papers in front of Toppin, who ended up turning down offers from Georgia, Oklahoma State and Rhode Island.

   "He just needed more exposure," Mt. Zion coach Rodrick Harrison told The Journal News. "He had just turned a corner after his senior year. Everyone realized that one more year of school could do it for him. It did."

    • Mohamed Bamba, the top uncommitted player in the Class of 2017, announced he will attend the University of Texas in the fall. The 7-footer from Harlem has been playing for Westtown School in Pennsylvania.

   Bamba had also been weighing offers from Duke, Kentucky and Michigan.

   "Why Texas? Why would a kid from Harlem travel 1,750 miles from home to pursue his goals?" Bamba wrote on the Players Tribune. "The world is bigger than 94 by 50 feet, and we all agreed that Texas offers me an exceptional opportunity to blaze my own trail on the basketball front with the comfort of knowing that no matter what happens, I've got an unrivaled support network to lean on for whenever the ball stops bouncing."

   Girls lacrosse: Senior goalie Delaney Galvin made 10 saves as St. Anthony's defeated Hempstead Sacred Heart 11-7 for the CHSAA girls Class AAA lacrosse championship Thursday.

   It is the 10th straight CHSAA title for the Friars.

   Senior Sabrina Cristodero scored three of her four goals in the first half as St. Anthony's took a 6-4 lead. Sophomore Kira Accettella scored twice in the first 10 minutes of the second half to extend the advantage to 8-4.

    • Our Lady of Mercy scored a 10-6 win over St. Dominic in the Class AA championship as Maggie McGovern made 11 stops.

   Fantastic finish: Down 13-9 to host Ardsley with six minutes to play, the Our Lady of Lourdes boys lacrosse team rallied to a 15-13 victory.

   Dillon Rispoli paced the winners with five goals, Joe Scaglione scored four and Adam Breault added three.

   More boys lacrosse: Kyle Bonesteel scored in the second overtime as Rocky Point, ranked 19th in the state in Class B, escaped with an 11-10 win over Half Hollow Hills West in the Section 11 quarterfinals.

   Bonesteel's second goal of the game came with 43 seconds left in the second extra period.


   Rocky Point had a chance to win in regulation, but Pete LaSalla's shot hit pipe as time expired.

   LaSalla (two goals, one assist) won 20 of 24 faceoffs.

   Colin Horan scored in double overtime for Webster Thomas in a 9-8 win over Penn Yan in a non-league contest.

   Webster Thomas is ranked eighth in Class B and Penn Yan 13th in Class D.

   Webster Thomas scored four goals in the fourth quarter, including Nick Mabe's shot with :52 to go in regulation.

   Softball slugfest: Somers edged Beacon 25-23 in the opener of the Section 1 tournament. Gabby Mazzotta went 4-for-4 with three doubles and four RBIs, and Karly Moscarello and Kelsey Lavin drove in three runs apiece.

   Eligibility lawsuit: The stakes are higher than usual in this sort of dispute, but my semi-educated guess is that the process will play out the same as recent petitions for an extra year of high school sports eligibility.

   A parent of a Horseheads student filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and Section 4, contending the organizations have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act in preventing the boy from playing a fifth season of basketball.

   The player, identified only as B.M. in the lawsuit, will need an additional year in high school because of disabilities related to chronic migraine headaches, The Star-Gazette reported. The suit contends the NYSPHSAA and Section 4 have "refused to even consider the eligibility limitation of four consecutive seasons."

   Whereas most challenges regarding eligibility are resolved before going so far as State Supreme Court, this case is different because the plaintiffs are going the federal route by challenging through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

   "Every student should have an equal opportunity to play high school sports," Disability Rights New York Executive Director Timothy Clune said in a news release. "This lawsuit will allow B.M. and all students with disabilities to enjoy the full high school experience, including participating in competitive sports."

   A cursory look at the filing indicates the suit may be on point in key respects, including his needing to repeat a grade because of repeated absences due to the illness. But two things stick out as big hurdles:

   (1) The latest application for extended eligibility was only submitted by the school district on April 25, and the lawsuit paints Section 4 and NYSPHSAA as being somewhere between non-responsive and negligent with respect to making a determination because there hasn't been an answer thus far.

   History shows that three weeks and change is typically not enough time to process appeals that are not an emergency situation -- such as forfeits that could affect an upcoming postseason championship. I'm not sure whether the fact that this is now officially a federal case will require the section and the NYSPHSAA to seek additional legal counsel, further slowing the process.

   (2) A judge presiding in federal court may be of a different opinion, especially because of the ADA aspect of the suit, but State Supreme Court justices typically punt on eligibility cases unless all other avenues have been exhausted.

   If Section 4 rejects the latest petition for a fifth year, the appeal goes to the NYSPHSAA office. After that, it goes to State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.

   NYSPHSAA appeals are heard in quick order, but it can easily take six months for Elia's office to rule on even simple cases because of the sheer volume of appeals. If it takes any length of time to get on the federal court docket only to have the case dismissed pending rulings from Section 4, the NYSPHSAA and then Elia, the family is staring at a long wait before being able to return to court.

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