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The 2016-17 New York high schools year in review

   (Aug. 18, 2017) -- It took until the final day of the season, but boys lacrosse gave us the moment that will stand as the most memorable of the 2016-17 high school sports year. Without further delay as we warm up for the new fall sports season, here are 11 pages of highs, lows and everything in between from last year:

An epic comeback for a title

   Down four goals with barely a minute to play, Ward Melville rallied to tie on a Matt Grillo goal with eight seconds remaining in regulation and won when Grillo struck again with :01 left in overtime to complete the Patriots' 10-9 win over Pittsford for the NYSPHSAA boys Class A lacrosse championship.

   Grillo's heroics on his 17th birthday capped a trying day and a half for Ward Melville, which traveled nearly 400 miles by bus to St. John Fisher College the previous day ahead of a 10 a.m. start.

   When Pittsford extended its lead to 9-4 midway through the fourth, it looked bleak for Ward Melville. And then ...

   "It went from the worst birthday ever to the best birthday ever in about a minute and a half," Grillo, a junior attackman, told News12Varsity.

   The comeback began with Eddie Munoz's first of three straight goals with 1:01 left in the fourth. By the time he completed his hat trick, the margin was down to 9-8 with :26.6 left. Junior Mike Giaquinto, a Penn State recruit who was 19-of-22 on faceoffs, won the ensuing draw and Andrew Lockhart fed Grillo for the regulation tie.

   The teams traded possessions in OT, and then it came down to a restart from behind the Pittsford goal line extended with :06 to play. Ward Melville coach Jay Negus wanted Grillo to find Dom Pryor and have the Hofstra-bound middie seek out the best available cutter.

   "I didn't think there was enough time for that," Grillo said. "I just kind of did it myself."

   He cut inside of a defender and scored while falling to the ground, setting off a wild celebration of the program's ninth state tournament title.

More clutch comebacks

   Until the Ward Melville rally, Liverpool's 14-13 win in overtime vs. the combined Syracuse City School District squad in the Section 3 Class A quarterfinals looked as though it would be the most memorable comeback.

   Dylan Wallace's fourth goal of the day gave the Warriors the win after they had trailed 12-3 with just four minutes remaining in the third quarter. Liverpool erupted for five goals in the final four minutes of regulation, with Wallace connecting three times in that stretch. Devin Dewane had the other two, including the tying goal with 1:04 left.


    • Being down two scores and defending a first-and-goal situation with 2:20 to play didn't deter Sidney from pulling out a 42-36 win over Onondaga in OT in the NYSPHSAA Class D football quarterfinals.

   Dawson Backus' 1-yard run in overtime gave Sidney its first lead since 8-6 and completed a comeback from a 36-22 deficit.

   Nine plays after recovering a fumble deep in their own territory, the Warriors' scored on a 22-yard pass play from Darren Smith (28-for-46, 329 yards, five TDs) to Alex Hoskins on 4th-and-10. Backus ran in the conversion with :47.3 to go.

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   Reggie Jimenez recovered the onside kick and Sidney pulled off the hook-and-lateral play two snaps later as Smith threw to Hoskins at the 30 and Backus swooped by to take the exchange and carry the ball to the end zone. The 2-point conversion try failed after a bad snap, sending the game to OT, and Hoskins ended the Onondaga possession with a third-down interception.

   Backus then carried twice for 19 yards to set up his victorious 1-yard carry.

    • Down three goals at the half, New Rochelle struck three times in a seven-minute span and went on to a 4-3 win in overtime over Calhoun in the NYSPHSAA boys soccer semifinals. Harwan Alzuabidi headed in a cross from the right sideline by Stevenson Dieudonne six minutes into OT to advance the Huguenots into the Class AA championship game.

   • Hannah Morse rattled home a runner along the baseline as time expired, completing a 16-point fourth-quarter rally that lifted Watkins Glen to a 65-63 win over Port Jefferson for the NYSPHSAA girls Class C basketball title at Hudson Valley Community College.

   The Senecas outscored Port Jefferson 28-10 in the fourth quarter to capture their first state title.

   Morse's heroics began with an out-of-bounds play in front of the Watkins Glen bench with :08.9 left. She took the inbound pass, dribbled to the top of the arc and back left for a moment before reversing course and turning toward the basket.

Tempting fate ... twice

   Mount Vernon won the NYSPHSAA boys Class AA basketball championship, but not before surviving frantic comebacks in two postseason games.

   The Knights overcame a meltdown of near-historic proportions in the Section 1 final, surrendering all of a 26-point lead in the third quarter to Scarsdale, giving up a tying 3-pointer at the end of the regulation, and then recovering to win 67-61 in overtime.

   Said coach Bob Cimmino: "It was three separate games; it was our half, their half and a little bit of overtime. I'm just happy the fellas did what they did at the end so I could continue teaching at Mount Vernon High School. Because I don't think I would be going back if we didn't finish this one."

   The next time the Knights took the court, previously unbeaten Pine Bush chopped a 23-point deficit in the third quarter to four points in the fourth but couldn't quite get over the hump as Mount Vernon walked away with a 68-59 win in the NYSPHSAA first round. Senior Noah Morgan finished with 25 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals.

[Continued on Page 2]

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