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Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018: New Hartford, Schroeder topple defending champs

   Leading off today: A pair of defending sectional champions crashed out of their respective 2018 hockey tournaments on Friday.

   Fourth-seeded New Hartford went on the road and stunned Skaneateles 4-2 in the Section 3 Division II quarterfinals. Mike Fiorentino scored the game-winner for the Spartans in the third period and Tyler Penree added an insurance goal.

   New Hartford goalie Juliano Macera made 21 saves.

   Skaneateles was ranked sixth in the state this week.

   In Section 5 Division I, Webster Schroeder scored a 3-2 win over Pittsford, the state runner-up a season ago.

   The Warriors struck for goals by Hunter Olsen, Connor Ball and Nick Obi in a 2:46 span midway through the third period to take a 3-1 lead.

   Tough ending to season: As a No. 9 seed in the Section 2 girls Class AA basketball tournament, Niskayuna likely wasn't going far anyway. But the 46-36 loss to Columbia in the first round was made worse by the absence of Olivia Owens.

   Owens, a 6-foot-4 center bound for the University of Maryland, had eye surgery earlier Friday to repair a torn retina and was unable to play.

   Lexi Van Vorst made five of Columbia's eight 3-point baskets to lead the victory. Columbia goes to defending tournament champion Shenendehowa, the top seed, on Wednesday.

   Girls hoops milestones: Senior Arielle Raux scored 17 points and coach Pam Munger recorded her 400th career win in Little Falls' 61-41 triumph vs. Mount Markham in the Section 3 Class C playoffs Friday.

   Munger is 400-231 in 30 seasons, including a 17-4 mark this season.

    • St. John's recruit Kadaja Bailey went over 2,000 points for her career in a loss Thursday.

   Bailey finished with 18 points for Manhasset St. Mary's in a 56-31 setback against Long Island Lutheran.

   League news: Batavia will become a football-only member of the Livingston Conference Athletic Association next season, The Daily News reported.

   Batavia had gone the independent route in the sport eight seasons while rebuilding a program that had been struggling against Monroe County League competition. The Blue Devils have since rebuilt, winning Section 5 Class B championships in 2014, '15 and '16.

   "We thought that it would be in our program's best interest to jump on the opportunity to join a league because it's been very difficult scheduling games the past three or four years," coach Brennan Briggs said. "Last year we were well into March and April still looking for games."

   The LCAA could be heading for significant additional changes in football. The paper reported that several members are exploring a possible switch to eight-man football.

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   Good enterprise: Getting prepped for postseason coverage didn't stop The Journal News from producing more fine reporting this week.

   In the aftermath of the U.S. Gymnastics scandal involving physician Larry Nassar, the paper examined the challenges that schools face in finding qualified coaches and then vetting them.

   The story noted at least two examples of coaches who were certified by the New York State Education Department, passed background checks and completed all

  
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the requirements to become licensed teachers and coaches -- only to be accused of inappropriate behavior and removed from their positions.

   "The fallout (over Nassar) has really heightened our awareness of the importance of addressing these issues and making sure we're doing as much as possible to prevent these types of heinous things taking place," said Shellie Pfohl, CEO of the U.S. Center for SafeSport. "Our focus is on everything from bullying to harassment to hazing to physical, emotional and sexual misconduct in sport. These are things I think all of us who are in and around sports in America need to be vigilant about."

   The New York State Education Department oversees the certification process for coaches. While administrators support the need to regulate, the bureaucratic process chases off more than a few highly qualified candidates. The paper reported it can take up to eight months and cost some $300 to certify a volunteer coach who's employed outside the school district.

   "If you're working with kids, certain standards have to be met,” John Jay Cross River AD Chris McCarthy said. "I do think there are some issues that need to be cleaned up to make it easier to bring in non-teacher coaches."

   Rich Schelling has been volunteering on the Suffern ice hockey bench under his brother, Rob, for 19 seasons.

   "The certification part is torture," he said. "I totally understand why it has to be done and it's easier now that more of the class work is online, but it's very challenging and we pay for all of it ourselves."

   More reading: My weekly column for PressConnects.com explains why "you hit like a girl" is an outdated insult.

   I caught up last weekend with some of the athletes at Aquinas Institute who are preparing for the 86th annual Mission Bouts, the longest-running high school boxing program in the country.


  
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