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Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019: Johnstown's run in field hockey ends short of title

   Editor's note: This blog was updated Tuesday at 1:10 p.m. to add information to the Section 5 basketball item and clarify regarding the latest grievance.

   Leading off today: One of the under-the-radar stories of a weekend of postseason competition came out of Section 2, where Johnstown fell one win short of a New York State Public High School Athletic Association field hockey championship at the end of a season that almost wasn't.

   Parents, fans, and friends who couldn't make the trip to Alden gathered in the high school auditorium and watched the 1-0 setback in the state final vs. Bronxville on video.

   In May, Johnstown eliminated nearly all funding for its after-school athletics programs after voters rejected a budget proposal with a 35 percent tax levy increase. The budget failed to garner the 60 percent supermajority needed to override the New York state property tax cap.

   Subsequently faced with the prospect of no scholastic sports this school year, the community began a huge fundraising campaign to raise $311,000. Field hockey coach Christine Krempa was one of those spearheading the drive.

   "It's amazing. It's definitely not the outcome we wanted today, but I just really hope this community is proud of these kids," Krempa said. "Because it just was an extra battle."

   Heading to Glens Falls: The fields are set for the final weekend of the girls volleyball season, with 20 teams making it through qualifying Friday or Saturday.

   Pool play will be held Saturday and finals Sunday at Cool Insuring Arena.

   The field:

   Class AA -- Our Lady of Mercy, Connetquot, Ossining, Baldwinsville.

   Class A -- Irondequoit, Rockville Centre South Side, Hendrick Hudson, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.

   Class B -- Broadalbin-Perth, Seaford, Westhill, Ardsley.

   Class C -- Portville, Pierson, Valhalla, Lake George.

   Class D -- Galway, Haldane, Candor, Panama.

   Heading to SU: Elmira point guard Kiara Fisher, who underwent two major surgeries over the last 11 months that kept her out for a season, signed during a ceremony on Friday night to play women's basketball at Syracuse University next season.

   "It's pretty amazing," she said. "All the people who are here tonight have supported me in some way throughout my life. It means a lot to know that that many people want to come watch me basically sign a paper. It's kind of crazy."


   Fisher led the Express to back-to-back Section 4 Class AA championships as a freshman and sophomore. She underwent shoulder surgery last December, returned to AAU basketball in the spring and suffered a torn ACL in her left knee in her second game, resulting in surgery June 24 to repair that injury.

   The knee surgery was performed by Dr. Donald Shelbourne in Indianapolis. His technique is designed for a quick recovery that has allowed Fisher to participate in recent workouts. She to return to the court for games next month.

   "Kiara spearheaded this class years ago with her commitment to us," Orange coach Quentin Hillsman said in a press release. "She is a pure point guard with great vision and is very crafty off the bounce."

   Arrests after N.J. shootings: Five men have been arrested in connection with a shooting incident Friday at a New

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  • Jersey football game between host Pleasantville and Camden High that left three people wounded.

       The wounded included a 10-year-old boy critically injured and airlifted to a Philadelphia hospital.

       The Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office said Alvin Wyatt, 31, is charged with three counts of attempted murder in the shooting. The Atlantic City man also faces weapons charges.

       Four other men ranging in ages from 26 to 28 also face weapons charges.

       Following up: Prospects for a no-hitches start to the Section 5 boys basketball season would have to improve quite a bit just to be termed "bleak."

       Section 5 and IAABO Board 60, which repre- sents referees working games in the majority of Rochester and Finger Lakes leagues, have been in a long-simmering dispute that includes grievances filed against each other. The NYSPHSAA raised the stakes Monday by filing a grievance with the statewide organization that has oversight of Board 60.

       In the new development, the NYSPHSAA grievance filed against IAABO Board 19 contends Board 60 is withholding services via a strike-like boycott of 2019-20 season game assignments in violation of its contract.

       The season kicks off with one game Friday and a smattering of weekday games next week. The first problematic date will be no later than Nov. 30, when there may not be enough referees available to handle a modest schedule of six games, but there could even be problems on nights with two or three games before then if officials from the available pool turn back assignments. (One referee who requested anonymity says that is already the case.)

       Section 5 Executive Director Kathy Hoyt will update school officials on Wednesday at regularly scheduled meetings of the sectional Executive Committee and Athletic Council. She told me on Monday she is preparing for the prospect of announcing postponements.

       It's really anyone's guess what happens once the impasse -- which began largely as a financial issue but recently has been focused on the process for assigning officials to games -- reaches the point at which contests have to be postponed. With the NYSPHSAA now having already gone up the chain with a grievance against Board 19, one logical possibility would be to ask the national IAABO board to impose sanctions up to and including decertification of Board 60.

       That could introduce even more chaos to the situation, and it's unclear whether Section 5 and the NYSPHSAA would need to have their grievances upheld in a time-consuming arbitration in order to trigger such a process. Additionally, there's no guarantee that officials, who stand to lose more than $400,000 in game fees this season, would come back.

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