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Thursday, March 1, 2018: Player suits up after court stays suspension

   Leading off today: The forecast calling for an in-like-a-lion storm that's supposed to hit the Greater Rochester area as well as much of the rest of the state beginning tonight was only shaping up to be only the second-worst disaster to strike the Section 5 basketball tournament this week.

   No. 1 on the list until a victory by the Batavia Notre Dame girls on Wednesday made the issue moot was a mess involving the Red Creek girls team, a story reported by Batavia Daily News Managing Editor John Anderson.

   The short story is that a judge's decision restored the eligibility of a suspended player in time for her to participate in Wednesday's Class C-1 semifinal contest. Had Notre Dame not rallied from eight points down after three quarters and eliminated Red Creek 52-48, a whole lot of adults could have been looking at spending a whole lot of time in various hearings for a week or more, potentially delaying the conclusion of the Section 5 tournament and perhaps throwing a monkey wrench into the start of the NYSPHSAA tournament.

   Here's what happened, courtesy of Anderson's story and what little digging I had time to do Thursday morning:

   On Saturday, freshman star Isabella Wilbur of top-seeded Red Creek was ejected midway through the fourth quarter of a 69-65 victory over Byron-Bergen after apparently being assessed two intentional fouls. I say apparently, because the video I watched left me with more questions than answers.

   That six-minute video (watch it here) showed two unrelated sequences in which fouls were whistled, but the first clearly did not involve Wilbur. She was at the center of the second call, which began with Wilbur breaking up a layup. There didn't seem to be anything egregious there, but she appeared to flail her legs ever so slightly at the Byron-Bergen player as she crashed into the wall just beyond the baseline.

   That action in itself -- which could be construed as a reaction to bumping the wall -- didn't look bad enough to justify anything beyond the shooting foul, but it's unclear whether she may have said something to trigger a technical foul. Coupled with a first infraction may have taken place before the start of the video, it's iffy whether it justified her ejection. Ditto if the referee construed the kicking motion all by itself enough to merit ejection.

   Ejections, however, carry the added penalty of suspension from the next game, and that's where things got complicated in hurry.

   Anderson reported that a town justice granted Red Creek an injunction to allow the Wilbur to play in the final vs. Notre Dame. The story did not identify the court but said Notre Dame Principal Wade Bianco, AD Mike Rapone and coach Tom McCulley learned of the decision shortly before the game.


   Red Creek used Wilbur in Wednesday's loss and she scored 25 points.

   Notre Dame's victory appears to make most if not all of the scheduled March 6 court hearing moot. Had the Fighting Irish lost, they would have grounds for appeals that would almost certainly have been upheld all the way up the Section 5 and NYSPHSAA ladder, all but guaranteeing a quick return to the unspecified town court, probably followed in short in short order by a date in State Supreme Court.

   Experience tells me Red Creek would have ended up losing. But experience also tells me it could have been a protracted affair, even with all the parties moving ahead with all deliberate speed.

   For starters, Saturday's scheduled C-1 final may have been postponed, also pushing back the Section 5 state qualifier against the Class C-2 champion.

   Factor in court proceedings, even if the town court was removed from the equation -- there is a legitimate question as to whether a town court even has jurisdiction in such matters -- and the matter moved quickly to State Supreme Court, and the following weekend's state Class C quarterfinal vs. the Section 6 representative might have been pushed back by at least a day or two.

   No time to lose: Floral Park point guard Frank Phelan made two of three free throws with no time left, giving Floral park a 57-56 win over Sewanhaka in the Section 8 Class A boys basketball semifinals Wednesday.

   After missing the first shot, Phelan canned the next two as Floral Park advanced to the final.

   Phelan (26 points) hit a 3-pointer with :03.8 left to get Floral Park within a point at 56-55. Sewanhaka inbounded the ball, but Phelan made a leaping stab and stole the pass. He dribbled just to the right of the top of the key outside the arc and was fouled in the act of shooting.

   A live longshot: Ramapo, seeded 18th in the Section 1 Class AA tourney, scored five points in the final :22 of regulation and upset No. 3 Mamaroneck in overtime 47-44 in the semifinals.

   "My guys have been there," coach Steve Loscher said. "We've been doing this night in and night out for two weeks and every game has been more exciting than the last."

   Ramapo (10-14) earned an unlikely berth against Mount Vernon in Saturday's championship.

   "Stop counting us out," senior Anthony Simon warned after a 14-point, eight-rebound effort that including the tying basket with :05.4 left in regulation. "We're good. You give us an opportunity, we'll take it."

    • Mount Vernon reached the final for the 20th straight year. The defending NYSPHSAA champs defeated Horace Greeley 91-80.

   Jason Douglas-Stanley scored a game-high 37 points. Mount Vernon also dominated the paint as sophomore Troy Hupstead had 13 points and 16 rebounds and senior Chase Johnson had nine points to go with 13 boards.

   Good reading: had a nice feature on one of my favorite stories of the year -- the Brookfield girls basketball team.

   The Beavers will play Waterville on Thursday for the Section 3 Class D title. Brookfield didn't even have a team five years ago and went 1-11 four seasons ago. The team is 20-0 this winter with a BEDS figure of just 51.

   "I guess it would be a dream season," coach Doreen Rogers said. "That's what I've been calling it. To go undefeated, to win a league championship and then get to the finals in the sectional tournament -- it's amazing."

   And more good reading: Skaneateles lineman Scott Ochsner is sticking with his commitment to Division III Brockport State even after receiving a late offer from an FCS school down the road. You can read the story on

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