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Monday, Aug. 12, 2019: Change of address for two more hoops standouts

   Leading off today: Opposite ends of the state but similar developments.

   Two highly regarded boys basketball players have decided to transfer ahead of the upcoming school year, with one of them exiting the state altogether.

   First, first-team all-state guard Ahkee Anderson is leaving Greenport and will play his senior season for Center Moriches.

   Anderson has scored 1,548 points in three varsity seasons and averaged 24 points a game as a junior in helping Greenport to the NYSPHSAA Class C semifinals, a run that ended with a triple-overtime loss to Cooperstown.

   Center Moriches lost in the state Class B semifinals and will be getting a boost with Anderson's arrival.

   "You know, I'll always love Greenport," Anderson said. "It's time to move on and try something else."

   And then there was the disclosure that Willie Lightfoot, a fifth-team all-state pick in Class AA, is leaving Niagara Falls for to attend Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas, for his sophomore year.

   Lightfoot helped the Wolverines to their first appearance in the NYSPHSAA semifinals in 10 years, and he's the program's second key departure this summer. Jalen Bradberry, another fifth-team all-state pick, has transferred to Park School.

   "You don't replace a Willie Lightfoot," new Niagara Falls coach Brent Gadacz said, "but I still expect us to compete for a sectional title, and then anything after that is one game at a time."

   Coaching change: Former WNBA player Samantha Prahalis will not be back for a third season as the girls basketball coach at Ward Melville, which went 20-3 last winter.

   "Coaching positions are annual appointments and, at this time, the individual was not reappointed as head coach of the Ward Melville High School girls basketball team for the upcoming year," the district said in a statement. "As this is a matter of personnel, the district has no further comment."

   Prahalis, formerly a star player at Commack and then Ohio State, told Newsday she will not comment until after next week's school board meeting..

   Seeking a solution: Spectrum News reported last week that developments at the New York State Education Department make it unlikely that there will be a resolution of an issue in Unified Sports in the immediate future.

   With Commissioner Dr. MaryEllen Elia having announced she is leaving this month and an interim hire likely to take the helm for now, there doesn't figure to be movement on a long-standing pitch to allow over-age high school students to participate in Unified Sports, which is the NYSPHSAA's collaboration with the Special Olympics.

   Spectrum reported that Robert Zayas, executive director of the NYSPHSAA, said the organization has supported changing the age cut-off from 19 to 21 and will continue to push when a new commissioner steps in.

   One of the significant concerns that the NYSED office is dealing with is how it might be able to implement the change to existing regulations without having it apply to non-Unified Sports competition. The idea of a 14-year-old football or lacrosse player lining up directly against someone who turns 19 a month into the season is scary enough to athletic officials, so putting a 21-year-old into that mix takes it to a whole new level.


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   No surprise at all: The Omaha World-Herald did a study recently showing that many colleges carry oversized women's rowing rosters in what appears to be a bid to balance out football numbers and thereby stay in compli- ance with Title IX.

   The paper's examin- ation found rosters of 132 female rowers at Mich- igan, 120 at Alabama, 110 at Ohio State, 104 at Clemson and 101 at Texas. Wisconsin listed a seemingly impossible roster of 176 female rowers in 2018.

   The figures include "novice" rowers who are recruited to try the sport from the general student body and are eligible to be counted as female athletes as long as they're on the roster for the team's first com- petition. Some schools cite the novice designation as a way to expose athletes to the sport typically not available at the high school level.

   Coach setting up foundation: Sachem North boys volleyball assistant Matt "Dezy" DiStefano was the focus of a massive golf outing fundraiser last week, but he has decided that the $85,000 that was raised needs to go to a broader cause.

   DiStefano, 41, was diagnosed with kidney cancer in February but told Newsday he wants the money that's been raised to go to the Dezy Strong Foundation, which is being created to help families impacted by cancer.

   "Everyone really thinks this is a fundraiser for my family and I came here and I'm putting a twist in it," he said. "I don't want the money. I don't need the money. I want to start a foundation to help other families."

   DiStefano began treatment in March. He said his form of cancer doesn't have a high-percentage chance for survival but the experimental treatment costing about $42,000 a month is covered by insurance and his three-month check-up showed that his tumors were shrinking.

   Extra points: Former Tottenville football standout Zihir Lacewell announced last week his is leaving Rutgers and will transfer to Garden City Community College in Kansas. Lacewell was redshirted last season after appearing in four games on special teams for Rutgers.

   Rutgers had planned on moving Lacewell from wide receiver to safety. He will play safety at Garden City CC.

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