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Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018: Jericho halts Ward Melville fending streaks

   Leading off today: Ward Melville's 172-match winning streak came to an end Tuesday as the host Jericho boys fencing team scored a 14-6 victory for the Long Island Championship.

   Ward Melville was the 10-time defending champion.

   "We were very strong everywhere this year," Jericho fencer Jonathan Sheng said after going 3-0 in sabre bouts. "As we went through the season and went on a run I was very confident."

   The Ward Melville girls team capped an undefeated season with a 14-7 win over Jericho. It was the school's 15th Long Island crown in 16 years.

   Tuohy makes it a perfect 10: North Rockland sophomore Katelyn Tuohy has been named Gatorade's national girls cross country runner of the year on the heels of an unbeaten season.

   She is the 10th New Yorker to earn a national Gatorade honor. She joins:

  • Kenny Anderson, basketball, 1989
  • Felipe Lopez, basketball, 1994
  • Stephon Marbury, basketball, 1995
  • Christie Welsh, soccer, 1998
  • Nicole Kaczmarski, basketball, 1999
  • Greg Paulus, football, 2004; also selected as overall national athlete of the year.
  • Tina Charles, basketball, 2006
  • Aisling Cuffe, cross country, 2010
  • Breanna Stewart, basketball, 2012; also selected as overall national athlete of the year.
   The presentation was made by former Bronxville great Mary Cain.

   Sign on the dotted line: Wednesday was the start of the traditional letter of intent signing period for football players in the Class of 2018. Combined with the first-ever early-signing period shortly before the holidays, the list of New Yorkers heading off to FBS programs stands at least 34 players.

   With a couple of guys still in grades limbo or heading off to the service academies, we should get a little bit closer to 40 by the time the signing period ends. Regardless, this is New York's most productive year in recent memory.

   Boys basketball: Austin James scored 19 of his game-high 28 points during the first half, while Ryan Bradley (20 points, 15 rebounds) and Brendan Trapper (12 and 10) each posted double-doubles as Canisius stormed past Park School 84-60 to avenge an earlier defeat.

   Park School began the week third and Canisius fifth in Class A according to the New York State Sportswriters Association. (Full rankings here.)    "We got our tails kicked," said Pioneers coach Rich Jacob. "They were patient, they executed, they shot the heck out of the ball and they beat us inside. No one deserves to win when that happens."

   I've got a problem with this: The comments posted beneath stories on legitimate news sites tend to have the intelligence of one of mom's potted plants, so I try my best to ignore them. But one posting beneath a story from The Journal News made a great point.

   Why is it that the sister of Suffern's athletic director seems to know more about why Joe Biddy apparently will not be retained for a 50th season as boys cross country coach than most of us do?

   According to the story, Amy Briggs "scolded his supporters for showing 'passion and emotion' without knowing the facts of why the decision to let Biddy go was made.

   "I think things are out of hand. People need to step back and realize they don't know what's going on."

   Biddy's supporters stood outside for more than 90 minutes in 27-degree weather with signs urging the Suffern Board of Education to retain the coach Tuesday.

   Though Biddy says he was informed he would not be retained, the district has refused to confirm a decision has been made. AD Andy Guccione has said no recommendations for fall sports assignments have been made ahead of fall appointments that are typically announced in the spring.

   Speaking of controversies: Bill Murphy's abrupt departure as boys basketball coach at Scarsdale appears to be a resignation in name only. AD Ray Pappalardi said he accepted Murphy's resignation, but could not comment further.


   "They don't have anything in writing from me," said Murphy, who was in his third season. "So they can still fire me if they feel like they want to."

   The problems began Jan. 27 when Murphy reportedly benched a player for screaming at an assistant coach and followed up with a two-game suspension, which Murphy says the AD supported.

   Murphy feels he's been done in by a player's father, who denies responsibility for what's transpired. Murphy told the Scarsdale Inquirer he's been accused of getting drunk on December team trips to Florida the past two seasons. Murphy confirmed having beers but denied being intoxicated.

   "If drinking a beer is what I am guilty of, I am definitely guilty of it," he said.

    • Murphy's departure is the latest coaching change in what's been a two-year overhaul by Pappalardi, who has made recent changes to the leadership in varsity baseball, softball, hockey and boys lacrosse. In addition, girls lacrosse coach Genette Zonghetti reportedly was informed last week she will not be returning after a decade with the program.

   Next destination: Former Ossining girls basketball great Andra Espinoza-Hunter committed to Mississippi State on Tuesday.

   Mississippi State was the guard's first visit since leaving UConn midway through her freshman season last month.

   "Going to Mississippi State, I'll be able to develop as a player, but most importantly as a person, and I'll be around people who want to help me succeed and who want to see me succeed," she told The Journal News.

   She expects to enroll in time for summer classes, will sit out next season and then have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

   Espinoza-Hunter took a pass on commenting on blistering criticism of her by UConn coach Geno Auriemma in a since-deleted video.

   "I'll never say anything bad about him, he's a great coach," she said.

   Road Warriors: The Daily Gazette had a good feature this week on the basketball teams at Johnstown, who are practicing and playing away from home all season due to a project overhauling the gymnasium and pool as part of a $39.6 million capital plan approved by district voters in December 2014.

   The main hubs have been a nearby elementary school and Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

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