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Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019: Team missing four starters for sectional semifinal

   Leading off today: The Solomon Schechter girls basketball team will be without four starters Thursday for its Section 1 Class C playoff semifinal because of an overseas trip planned before the season started.

   "Obviously as a coach it isn't a dream scenario to be missing my starters for the playoffs, three of which are all-league players," coach Matthew Werner said. "However, I respect the decision they made. They gave their all to this program, set an incredible example for our younger girls and have changed the perception of girls basketball in the school. I couldn't think more highly of them as players and people."

   Schechter (11-9) is top-seeded in the tournament and will face a Keio Academy team that it defeated 42-35 during the regular season. Players who accounted for 40 of 42 of the winners' points will be in Israel as the rematch tips off.

   All-league player Amber Mandel said it was "extremely difficult" knowing she and her fellow senior starters would not be around for the postseason, but she has faith in her teammates stepping into new roles.

   "The new starters know that we are cheering for them all the way from Israel," Mandel said. "We just want them to put in 100 percent effort and energy and cherish the moment. Some of the new players have never had the opportunity to play at the County Center and the old starters worked hard for them to have this amazing experience."

   More girls basketball: Maple Hill pestered Lake George into 34 turnovers and earned a 60-52 victory in the Section 2 Class C tournament on Wednesday.

   Maple Hill is ranked fifth and Lake George sixth in the most recent New York State Sportswriters Association ratings.

   Gone again: Saugerties freshman basketball sensation Dior Johnson is gone again, his return to New York having lasted just eight games over two months.

   The Saugerties guard is leaving for Findley Prep, a boarding school in Henderson, Nev., this weekend, the Times Herald-Record reported.

   Johnson had left over the summer to attend IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., but returned to Section 9 in December. He averaged 30.5 points in eight games but did not play the past four contests due to attendance issues, the paper reported.

   Findley Prep posted on its Twitter account Wednesday, "Dior joins the family from New York and will begin working out with our staff and prepping for next season immediately."

   Johnson has 1,342 career points in his 2½ varsity seasons at Saugerties.

   Boys hockey: Sophomore Cade Spencer scored four goals in a 6:29 span of the second period as Webster Thomas steamed past Irondequoit in a Section 5 Class B semifinal at Rochester Institute of Technology.


   Sophomore Zack Wolfe contributed three goals and four assists for Thomas.

   "If you're not on your A-game against them, you're in trouble," Irondequoit coach Rick Giuffrida said.

   In the other semifinal, Spencerport welcomed goalie Rachel Brase (24 saves) back from a dislocated kneecap and defeated Canandaigua 7-3.

   End of controversy, for now: A high-profile lawsuit ended Wednesday as the mother of girls basketball star Maori Davenport filed a motion to dismiss her family's pending lawsuit against the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

   The request to dismiss the case followed the loss by

Davenport's team, Charles Henderson High, in the regional finals of the state Class 5A tournament.

   Davenport regained her eligibility late in the season amidst widespread criticism of the AHSAA's decision not to grant her a waiver for receiving compensation to cover her expenses for competing in Mexico as part of a U.S. national team. That decision was reversed via an emergency motion filed as a precursor to the case.

   Lawyers for the AHSAA had argued against dismissing the case, hoping to prove the original ineligibility ruling by Executive Director Steve Savarese correct.

   Football notes: Pen- field, Rochester Edison and Rochester Leader- ship Academy will not participate in the inaugural season of Federation-style sche- duling by Section 5, leaving them ineligible for sectional and state football playoffs this fall.

   By going independent, the schools will be responsible for their own schedules, getting assistance from the Section 5 football committee in reaching out to schools in Sections 3, 4 and 6.

   Separately, the ranks of Section 5 eight-man football will likely grow by one team this fall. Although Marcus Whitman has opted to return to 11-man football, school boards at Dundee and Pembroke are expected to give the OK to move to the eight-man format. That would give Section 5 five teams.

    • The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association intends to switch from the NCAA rulebook to National Federation for High School Associations rules this season, but 89.6 percent of 500 game officials surveyed by their organization said they would not be able to work games using Federation rules in a "safe and competent way by September."

   "This is like asking someone who has spoken English all their lives to become fluent in another language in six months, while still speaking English," Xaverian coach Al Fornaro said. "There are over 200 different rules and officials will be asked to make split-second decisions on one of them and mistakes are going to happen."

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