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Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019: Retired Saratoga teacher dropped as co-coach

   Leading off today: In an unfortunate scenario that plays out several times a year in a variety of sports across New York, a state championship-winning ice hockey coach will not be brought back this year because of contract language.

   Dave Torres, 57, co-head coach at Saratoga Springs with Tim Horst last season, was informed by district administrators that he won't get his anticipated final season behind the bench. Torres retired in July 2018 after serving 28 years as the district's attendance officer and Horst is a district employee.

   "Under the teacher contract, when I retired, I lost my good standing," Torres told The Daily Gazette this week. "It wasn't my choice. I wanted one more year. The teacher contract states he gets it over me. A teacher has first preference."

   The Blue Streaks went 15-6-0 under Horst and Torres last winter. Torres took over as head coach in 2011 and guided Saratoga to a NYSPHSAA championship the following season and a 22-3-1 record. He had a 121-52-10 mark overall.

   "I did not step down," Torres said. "I wanted to stay one more year and coach the guys I brought up when they were freshmen."

   More changes: Alaina Lange has left Schalmont after six seasons -- including a 2015 state crown -- to become the girls soccer coach at Lansingburgh. Schalmont went 112-7-3 under Lange and played in five Section 2 Class B finals.

   Ryan Fries will take her place at Schalmont after coaching the modified boys there last fall.

   On the move: All-state guard Tashawni Cornfield from Lake Shore is transferring to Putnam Science Academy for her senior basketball season, the Connecticut school posted on Twitter.

   Cornfield was 12th-team all-state in Class B as a junior, when she averaged 19 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.6 steals per game.

   'Self-defense' in fatal shooting: Prosecutors will not pursue the most serious potential charges against two teens in the shooting death of former all-state basketball player Ayanna Hunter, following a grand jury finding that they fired their weapons in self-defense.

   Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney announced Thursday that Wayne Brown, 18, and Pierre D. Thompson, 19, will not face homicide charges stemming from an altercation at a Niskayuna gathering in May. However, the grand jury did indict them on felony weapons and evidence tampering counts.

   Hunter, 21, arrived at the party armed with a handgun and had been feuding with one or more people at the gathering, Carney said. She approached the group, had a brief discussion and then pulled her gun and fired at Brown, Carney said.

   "There were at least three people shooting and it was understandably chaotic," Carney said.

   Hunter was a 10th-team all-state selection for Albany High in Class AA as a senior in 2016.


   This could be trouble: The allegations of illicit payments to high school stars had been published before, but now the documentation behind them is out there for public consumption.

   The text messages and emails from Nike executives were entered in federal court on Friday, Yahoo Sports reported. They include what is purported to be line-item accounting of alleged payments to the people around some of the biggest names in high school and college basketball and an acknowledgement attributed to a Nike executive that "the perception and resulting reality is that we dictate where players go to school."

   Controversial lawyer Michael Avenatti produced the exhibits (Nike itself previously handed over these documents to the government) in conjunction with allegations made this week that Nike has engaged in widespread corruption and under-the-table payments to high school players via its Elite Youth Basketball League, Yahoo reported.

   The development is likely to raise questions why a highly publicized federal investigation and two subsequent trials focused almost exclusively on Adidas even as that company's attorneys contended that Adidas wasn't bidding against itself.

   Avenatti was arrested on federal charges earlier this year.

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Prosecutors allege he tried to extort Nike with a threat of revealing incriminating details of impermissible payouts. Avenati pleaded not guilty and filed a motion to dismiss the case on Wednesday.

   ICYMI: I spent part of my week reading "Amazing Racers," Marc Bloom's inside look at the highly successful Fayetteville-Manlius cross country program. You can read my review here.

   Not fielding a team: With practice slated to open across the state on Monday, Leadership Acad- emy in Rochester is a casualty on the football landscape. Already slated to drop to independent status in Section 5's first year of federation sche- duling after a 1-7 mark in 2018, the school will not field varsity or JV teams this fall.

   A little practice levity: Police raided football practice at the University at Albany on Thursday, serving four players with papers.

   Don't assume the worst, however. The papers they were served with as anxious teammates looked on were notifications that the former New York high school standouts had been placed on scholarship for the upcoming season.

   The four redshirts were junior kicker Dylan Burns (Plainedge), sophomore lineman Will Haag (West Genesee), senior linebacker Prince Klutsey (Abraham Lincoln) and sophomore safety A.J. Mistler (St. Peter's).

   "It's one of the fun things we get to do as coaches," said head coach Greg Gattuso. "There are so many different ways to do it. I'm a former policeman and I love the police and this was a perfect way to do it ... I thought it would really shock them.

   The two police officers who helped out are former players themselves, one whom played for Gattuso at Albany.

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