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Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018: No. 6 Stepinac edges No. 8 Iona Prep in double overtime

   Leading off today: The term "instant classic" gets thrown around too often in sports -- I'm admittedly guilty in that regard -- but Archbishop Stepinac and Iona Prep indisputably played a boys basketball game worthy of the label Friday.

   Stepinac, ranked sixth in Class AA by the NYSSWA, outlasted the No. 8 Gaels 82-78 in a double-overtime thriller as freshman A.J. Griffin came off the bench to contribute 15 points, six rebounds and four blocks. Senior Alan Griffin and sophomore R.J. Davis scored 26 points apiece.

   There were 17 ties and 19 lead changes in front of 3,219 fans at the Westchester County Center. Neither team led by more than five points at any time.

   "I'll probably look back on this when I'm, well -- forever," Alan Griffin told The Journal News.

   Davis' fadeaway jumper with the shot clock winding down gave Stepinac a 67-64 lead, but Iona Prep's Romar Reid sent the game to OT on a contested 3-pointer with :30 to go.

   In the first OT, Davis put Stepinac ahead 72-69 in the final minute only to see 6-foot-9 Souleymane Koureissi (25 points, 10 rebounds) bury a corner 3-pointer with :03.3 seconds to go.

   "Two great shots," Stepinac coach Pat Massaroni said. "After each shot I said, 'You have to pick your heads up and keep playing. Four more minutes of fun.'"

   Koureissi hit a pair of free throws to give Gaels lead in the second OT, but Alan Griffin answered with a contested 3-pointer for a 79-78 lead with :43 to go and the defense came up with two stops -- one on A.J. Griffin's fourth block -- to close it out.

   The rematch is Feb. 2 at Iona Prep.

   Two steps forward, one step back: Section 5 is holding its inaugural dual-meet championships Saturday (Division I) and Tuesday (Division II) to determine its representatives in the first NYSPHSAA championship later this month in Syracuse.

   "Most of the sections have already been doing a dual meet championship," Section 5 coordinator Bill Hadsell told the Democrat and Chronicle. "We're just kind of joining the club."

   Unfortunately, participation is lacking. The event was set up to accommodate eight teams per class, but there will be only be six squads participating in each.

   Section 5 is not alone in this respect, but a number of coaches are reluctant to enter because of additional wear and tear on their top wrestlers, most of whom log in excess of 40 matches by the time the state qualifier for the NYSPHSAA individual championships rolls around later this season. They would rather picks their spots, allowing individuals to compete elsewhere and potential pick up more points toward wildcard berths in case they don't automatically qualify for the individual championships.


   "That is one thing, these kids wrestle a lot," Rush-Henrietta coach Mickey Marlowe said. "This whole points-chasing stuff is tough."

   Following up: The knee injury suffered by Woodlands girls basketball star Teisha Hyman on Dec. 11 turned out to be a torn medial meniscus in addition to a previously reported anterior cruciate ligament tear, the junior said on social

media this week.

   Hyman, who is three points shy of 2,000 for her career, has been doing physical therapy since the injury and is expected to undergo surgery later this month.

   If all goes well, Hyman could log some minutes on the court toward the end of summer and still be in the mix with many of the approximately two dozen Division I schools that have made offers.

   Welcome to New York: The brutal weather pounding the East Coast this week reached parts of New York beginning Thursday. The results were predictable. And in some cases it qualified as "business as usual" in a winter season that has generally given us above-average snow and below-average temperatures.

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