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Wednesday, Jan. 30: Small-school powers run into bigger challenges

   Leading off today: David vs. Goliath battles are part of the fun of high school sports. Sometimes, though, David finds himself face-to-face with Goliath's big brother and the results don't turn out as hoped.

   Tuesday's boys basketball schedule brought us a couple such examples.

   Skaneateles, unbeaten and ranked 10th in the state in Class B this week, dropped a 74-67 decision to Class AA Bishop Ludden.

   Ludden has won seven of its last eight games since a 3-3 start to the season. Senior guards Nic Button and Vernell Reid scored 23 and 20 points, respectively.

   "They do a lot of good things offensively and they had us on our heels. Skaneateles is a very, very good basketball team and for them to go 15-0 and (for us) to come out with a win like this, we have a lot of respect for them," Ludden coach Gallagher Driscoll. "It was a great challenge for us."

   Nate Fouts had a team-high 16 points for the Lakers.

   Meanwhile, the state's top-ranked Class D team, undefeated entering the weekend, dropped its second game in a row. Markus Robinson and Keegan Ocorr scored 29 points apiece as C.G. Finney defeated Prattsburgh 88-61.

   Finney is ranked seventh in the state in Class C.

   Prattsburgh got 23 points from Kris Johnson.

   The Vikings lost 73-62 over the weekend to York, a respectable Class C opponent. Given York's record and other dynamics across the state for the week, the New York State Sportswriters Association opted to keep Prattsburgh at No. 1 after that first loss.

   Girls basketball: Freshman Sydney Huhtala connected on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to complete a huge comeback and give Baldwinsville a 64-63 victory over Cicero-North Syracuse.

   C-NS held a 14-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

   Julia Schafer made a free throw to extend the C-NS lead to two points. Hannah Mimas took the inbound pass and dished to Huhtala to the left of the top of the key with :02 to go . With a defender closing in, Huhtala fired just ahead of the buzzer to finish with 14 points.

   Baldwinsville outscored C-NS 28-13 in the fourth quarter.

   Mimas topped the winners with 20 points to match the 20 from Jessica Cook of Cicero-North Syracuse.

   A tight fit: The storm hitting Western New York even as you read this has required Section 6 to push back its girls hockey tournament to the point that the eventual champion could be put in the position of playing five games in six days if it should go on to play in the NYSPHSAA regional championship contest.

   The sectional tournament, which was supposed to start yesterday, will now commence with quarterfinals Monday at three venues, followed by semifinals Tuesday and the championship game Wednesday.


   The New York State Public High School Athletic Association tournament is scheduled for Feb. 8-9 at HarborCenter in Buffalo. Top-seeded Frontier/Orchard Park/Lake Shore has a bye in the Section 6 tournament but would still find itself playing four games in five days if it reached the state title contest.

   Former Webster coach indicted: A Monroe County grand jury has indicted former Webster Schroeder football and girls basketball coach Kali Watkins on one count of first-degree rape and one count of second-degree rape, the Democrat and Chronicle reported.

   Watkins, 42, was a special education teacher in the Webster Central School District who was removed from his position as a special education teacher in the fall of 2017. He was replaced as coach of the girls basketball team at that time and was subsequently replaced on the football staff as well.

   The charges relate to having engaged in sex by forcible compulsion and engaging in sex with a child less than 15 years old, the Monroe County Ditrict Attorney's office said.

   Watkins is a former University at Buffalo football captain and was inducted into the Section 5 Football Hall of Fame in 2014.

   Strength in numbers: Gowanda Central School board members have floated the idea of exploring mergers and/or "tuition-in" arrangements with nearby districts.

   "It's time to start reaching out and talk about tuition agreements, maybe merging," board member Mark Nephew said. "Merging school districts brings in quite a bit of money. ... You get additional state aid for a merged school district for 10 years."

   Board President Cindy Sutherland said she attended a meeting last year that included representatives from several other districts, including one that was experiencing difficulties. "Quite frankly, a district needs to have something appealing to the taxpayers to make them want to merge with another district," she said.

   Nephew noted that Gowanda is more than twice the size of Forestville, North Collins and Pine Valley.

   More later (I think): Work is beginning to pile up, but I'm hoping to crank out a preview of Friday's scheduled NYSPHSAA Executive Committee meeting in Saratoga Springs. The agenda isn't necessarily all that lengthy, but there are several important topics slated for votes or discussion.

   I blogged earlier this week about the possibility of the boys hockey tournament reverting to 15-minute periods after playing 17-minute periods throughout the regular season and sectionals.

   Care to help? We ended publication of the New York State Sportswriters Association newsletter in the summer of 2012. Most of the membership fee up until then went toward the 46-50 newsletters per year, but what was left after printing and postage helped defray other expenses.

   Now, online ads cover the expense of providing rankings, news and reference material to readers of and its related sites such as, which has allowed us to end the membership fee.

   If you enjoy our content and feel inclined to help, we do maintain a page that allows contributions via credit cards or PayPal transfers and encourage you to check it out.

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