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Monday, Jan. 29, 2018: Westchester County officials seek hoops deal

   Leading off today: Recently elected Westchester County Executive George Latimer is hoping to make progress Monday in resolving the controversy in Section 1 over venues for the postseason basketball tournaments.

   The Journal News reported Latimer's office has asked to send a representative to the scheduled Section 1 Executive Committee meeting with the goal of returning boys and girls sectional tournament semifinals to the Westchester County Center.

   The section opted late last year to move the finals to Pace University and play semifinals on neutral courts in a cost-cutting measure, but lining up suitable gyms is expected to be problematic.

   The Section 1 Athletic Council recently recommended the section host this year's semifinals at the County Center on Feb. 26-28, and the letter from the county indicated there is room to negotiate a more favorable deal to help make that happen.

   Latimer, who took office Jan. 1, met with Section 1 officials on Jan. 9 to discuss the future of basketball at the County Center. He said the section wasn't budging for 2018 but expressed hope the tournament would return in 2019.

   From the Dept. of Man Bites Dog: You don't see this every day. North Rockland prodigy Katelyn Tuohy ran a middle-distance race Sunday and did not win.

   Tuohy, undefeated during the cross country season and fresh off a national high school record in the indoor 5K, got caught in traffic for a spell and placed second to Suffern junior Annelyse Benn in the 600 meters at the Rockland County Indoor Track & Field Championships. Benn ran a PR of 1:35.67 to Tuohy's 1:37.48.

   In Tuohy's defense, she began her day with a successful 1,000/1,500 double in 2:49.72 and 4:42.33.

   "That's who I was racing against," Benn said. "I'm really thankful to her. I wouldn't have competed as high up if she wasn't there. It really hurts but I guess that's what running is."

   First varsity coaching win: Mike Libert, who has been tracking the New York City boys basketball scene for the NYSSWA this season, wrote a nice game story featuring Artie Cox, pressed into duty as the head coach at Christ the King when Joe Arbitello came down sick Friday.

   Cox, as describer by Libert, is a "basketball lifer" with three decades on the job at Monsignor McClancy and CK. But a severe case of pancreatitis in late 2014 slowed him substantially for a long time and limited his role until the 2016-17 season. So, taking the Royals' reins for a night qualified as a very special moment and Cox was rewarded with a 68-55 win over Holy Cross.

   "It was great," Cox said, "but I'm just happy to be back and coaching and being my crazy old self again."

   Counting down to Tuesday: With Joe Girard III quite possibly set to break the state's all-time boys basketball scoring record of 2,946 points belonging to Lance Stephenson on Tuesday at Amsterdam and then reach 3,000 points shortly after that, the Glens Falls junior has been in the news even more than usual (if that's even possible) the past 72 hours.

   The Post-Star wrote a weekend feature in which Doug Kenyon, former director of the state boys basketball championships, summed up what a lot of us have been thinking: "It is blowing me away," Kenyon said. "We all knew he was good at an early age, but I don't think anyone thought he would accomplish to date what he has or what he is likely to accomplish in the future."

   Reporter Ellis Williams went the extra mile to catch up with Caryn (Schoff) Kovatch, who set the state record for girls with 3,550 points at St. Johnsville, winning three NYSPHSAA championships along the way.


   "I knew that my role on the team was scorer," Kovatch said. "For me, I just knew I had to keep scoring because I wanted our team to keep winning."

   Said Girard: "Along with winning comes scoring points. If I was scoring points on a team that was 2-12 rather than 12-2, then it would not really mean anything.

   That makes for a nice segue into the Friday game story from Michael Kelly at The Daily Gazette, who took on the topic of what it feels like to play on a team in which one individual is Plan A, B and sometimes C in the offensive scheme.

   "It might sound dumb, but our kids really understand their roles," said coach Rob Girard, the star player's uncle. "That's cliche and all that garbage, but they know their roles and that when we need a basket, we're going to run stuff for Joe."

   Said junior Trenton Girard, JG3's cousin: "And we need him to score a lot. We know what he's going to do and we need him to do it -- and we know he's going to get it done."

   Odd story of the month: The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association has found that a highly successful bowling coach may have tried to manipulate a match in order to keep a rival team out of the state girls tournament.

   Coach Eric Wells, who captured more state bowling titles than any coach in Tennessee before resigning this month, disputed the TSSAA's assertions and said his goal was to prepare the St. Benedict as best as possible for another trip to the state tournament.

   In a letter to St. Benedict administrators, TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress outlined the case against Wells and two assistants, pointing out that a loss to St. Mary's in which two 10th-frame substitutes were inserted into a close match, would have created a scenario in which a third school (Briarcrest) could be knocked out of contention for the state tournament.

   Wells pointed out that the result of the match didn't keep Briarcrest out of the tournament.

   Terming the situation "unsportsmanlike, unethical and dishonorable" the TSSAA placed St. Benedict's bowling program on probation and assessed a $500 fine.

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