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Monday, Feb. 18, 2019: Catching up on some interesting reading

   Leading off today: It may be a quasi-holiday kicking off a week of vacation for more than a few loyal readers, but you're not going to get away with just laying around and watching Netflix.

   No, sir. So here's your required reading ... also known as the cool stuff I noticed lately and couldn't manage to squeeze into an earlier blog.

    (1) Newsday's Gregg Sarra told the story of Amaya Williams, a member of the Copiague girls basketball team inspiring everyone around her by playing on two prosthetic legs.

   Williams was born 17 years ago with one kidney, holes in her heart, a hole in her septum and malformed legs. Her right leg was amputated above the knee at 13 months, and part of her left leg was removed just after her fourth birthday. She has endured 14 other operations and been fitted with 22 different sets of prosthetic limbs over the years.

   "My parents never drew a line," she said. "It was always whatever you want to do we'll support you. Karate, dance, swimming, basketball -- I was never limited to anything -- there were no restrictions. It was all there for me."

   She started playing basketball at age 4. "I would always watch the older kids play and watch their movements and what they did with their legs -- to see how I could accomplish it. I never doubt myself with anything I do but when I play basketball I know I'm definitely doing something right."

   She made the varsity team in November.

   "What she brings, it's unparalleled," coach Carole Olsen said. "When kids are feeling tired or they have a headache, she'll say, 'Well, I have no legs, get out there and play.' It makes everyone else work harder."

   The Copiague season ended with a loss Wednesday in the Section 11 tournament, but Williams finished the season with nine points on a trio of 3-pointers.

    (2) The people at Big League Chew bubble gum just released a newly designed package featuring a female athlete for the first time in the company's nearly 40-year history.

   The model for the design is a Section 5 softball player. Spencerport sophomore Alayna Berry, 16. Berry's aunt, illustrator Amanda Macfarlane, was hired by the company to come up with a design. It began with a request to make the batter left-handed and went through a series of tweaks over the course of a year.

   "They told me a few details they wanted, like the visor, and patches. After that I pretty much had free range," Macfarlane said.

    • Trivia: Berry is the granddaughter of former Baltimore Orioles shortstop Bobby Bonner, a former baseball coach at Northstar Christian Academy outside Rochester. Bonner played major-league baseball for the Baltimore Orioles and had the distinction of sharing a Topps rookie card with Cal Ripken Jr.

    (3) There were a couple of strong opinion columns over the weekend, beginning with Ellis Williams writing about Joe Girard III in The Post-Star.

   Unless you've been living in a cave with poor wi-fi coverage, you know that Girard is Syracuse-bound in the fall as the state's career scoring leader in boys basketball, not to mention that he's quarterbacked Glens Falls to two state football championships.

   And yet the sniping at him is persistent. You know the chatter ... he's a gunner beating up on small-school competition ... he's in for a rude awakening in college ... can't anyone else get a story headline once in awhile ... yadda, yadda, yadda.

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   "He had every opportunity to crack," Williams wrote. "But he never got in trouble, on or off the court, despite having a spotlight, both local and national, shining brighter than most understand.

   "His 36,800 followers on Instagram -- which is 4,500 more followers than Syracuse's leading scorer Tyus Battle -- prove that.

   "More importantly, he never responded to a single cheap shot fired from a coward behind their keyboard, because his mom and dad taught him better."

   Meanwhile, Nate Ruder of The Daily News in Batavia took Section 5 to task for having 10 classes in its boys basketball tournament plus nine girls brackets. Those 19 champions will have to play down to 10 spots in the NYSPHSAA tournament, meaning nearly half the Section 5 champions will conclude their championship seasons by losing to Section 5 opponents.

   With 39 teams and a commitment to run an "open" tournament in which everyone is allowed to participate, it's understandable that Section 5 would want more than one Class C bracket. But 11- and 12-team sub-brackets in other classes could easily be merged into 16-team brackets requiring schools to earn their way in.

   "Look at Class C1 for girls where Avon, a team that is 11-8, comes in at the No. 2 seed in that bracket," Rider wrote. "Not to rain on Avon's parade, but the Lady Braves have just one win against a team with a winning record (Keshequa) all season. Eight losses and only one win against a team better than .500 and you are seeded second. If that doesn't make you shake your head a little nothing will.

    (4) Ending on a lighter note, The Daily Messenger in Canandaigua recounted a round of golf in Florida interrupted by a police chase on the 16th green.

   The story caught my eye because one of the golfers was retired Honeoye boys basketball coach and AD Bil Saxby, one of my favorites while coving high school sports in Rochester in the mid-1980s.

   Saxby once returned his basketball preseason questionnaire to the Democrat and Chronicle listing Wilt Chamberlain -- complete with his actual height and weight -- as the Bulldogs' top newcomer.


  
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