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Monday, July 16, 2018: Two N.Y. girls score wrestling championships

   Leading off today: For the first time since the girls cadet division made its debut in 2011, New York has crowned multiple Champions in wrestling's Cadet & Junior National Championships in Fargo, N.D.

   Lynbrook rising sophomore Ally Fitzgerald (112 pounds) and Minisink Valley's Mia Macaluso (127) scored victories in finals on Sunday.

   Macaluso, a rising junior fresh off 10 days with the United States cadet world team at the U. S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., earned an 11-8 victory over Naomi Henry from Brooklyn in an all-New York title match after pinning her way to the final. The two were workout partners in practices leading up to this year's tournament.

   Fitzgerald decisioned Charlotte Kouyoumtjian of Porterville, Calif., 6-2. The score was 2-2 (with Kouyoumtjian holding the potential tiebreaker) with 20 seconds to go when Fitzgerald scored a decisive takedown.

   Taking a closer look: Team Takeover from Washington, D.C., downed California's Team WhyNot (sponsored by Russell Westbrook) 96-78 to claim the Nike Peach Jam title on Sunday in North Augusta, S.C.

   The contest in front of numerous college coaches culminated the first half of offseason action in the boys basketball ranks. used the event as the entry point for examining the Albany City Rocks program, which plays in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League and has ramped up to become the state's highest profile AAU program north of the metro New York area. It was founded by Jim Hart in the early 1990s and routinely attracts many of the top talents from up and down the Thruway.

   City Rocks won four of six games this weekend, bowing out to Team Takeover 65-57 in the quarterfinals.

   Reporter Donna Ditota traveled to Hampton, Va., on Memorial Day weekend to take a closer look at City Rocks, though the event was dominated by tragedy as James Hampton, a 19-year-old Team United forward, collapsed and died on the court during a game.

   A few items of note from the story:

    • Sponsorships and fundraising cover the cost of the U17 team, but players on City Rocks' younger teams pay between $300 and $600 a season to play. None of the coaches are paid salaries.

    • Shoe companies figure prominently in AAU basketball. City Rocks is a Nike program, which explains its participation in the EYBL.

   More basketball: Drissa Traore, a 6-foot-7 rising sophomore is transferring from Success Academy High School of the Liberal Arts in Harlem to Long Island Lutheran for the upcoming school year.

   More reading: The Daily Gazette did a Q&A last week with Robert Zayas, executive director of the NYSPHSAA. Topics included eSports, Ultimate Frisbee and helping parents to understand the difference in dynamics between youth and scholastic sports.


   "If you're a club coach and a parent wants to talk to you, you're probably going to talk to that parent because if you don't they're probably not going to be on your team anymore. So parents and kids grow up in this club sport mentality where they paid money and get their say," Zayas said. "Then, as soon as they get to high school sports, that all changes. And parents -- and to no fault of the parents -- get

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confused by that change because for the last 10 years they've gotten to go to the coach and voice their concerns and ask why Johnny isn't getting to play midfield.

   "In high school, that becomes a totally different dynamic. They're no longer paying the money and they no longer have a voice on the team, and they don't know how to operate in that new environment. ... In high school sports, (you have to) let the coaches coach, let the official officiate, let the players play -- and as a parent be a fan. But sometimes that's a difficult transition for parents."

   You can read the interview here.

   Awards time: The New York State Public High School Athletic Association has announced its 2017-18 Scholar-Athlete School of Distinction and School of Excellence Award winners. Some 30 schools earned the School of Distinction Award and another 111 were presented the School of Excellence Award.

   The School of Distinction status is earned by having 100 percent of a school's varsity teams qualify for and receive the Scholar-Athlete team award during their respective sports seasons. To earn the School of Excellence Award, 75 percent of a school's varsity teams must qualify and receive the Scholar-Athlete team award.

   The list of honored schools is on the NYSPHSAA website.

   Severe punishment: A Louisiana school was handed an unprecedented two-year postseason ban in all sports and fined nearly $42,000 by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association after it was found guilty of an array of eligibility/rules compliance violations across multiple sports.

   Baton Rouge McKinley was also ordered to forfeit runner-up finishes in Division I girls basketball for 2017 and 2018, and suspended its coaches for the 2018-19 school year.

   Extra points: Steve Griffin has retired as the athletic director at Maryvale. Griffin started his career as a coach at Cleveland Hill in 1988 and moved to Maryvale as the AD and football coach 18 years ago and relinquished the football job in 2010.

   Tim Klimtzak, who has been the school's longtime golf and girls basketball coach, will take over as AD.

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