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Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020: Kearney girls knock off top-ranked 'A' team

   Leading off today: Kaia Goode's late corner 3-pointer capped a fourth-quarter rally as Bishop Kearney edged Williamsville South 57-53 in intersectional girls basketball between state-ranked teams Friday.

   Goode took a pass from Marianna Freeman with less than 25 seconds remaining and connected to break a two-game losing streak for Kearney, ranked 198th in the state in Class AA. Williamsville South is top-ranked in Class A.

   Saniaa Wilson scored 10 of her 15 points in the final nine minutes for the winners in a battle with UConn commit Amari DeBerry (16 points).

   Kearney (9-3) was coming off losses to Shenendehowa and Queensbury last weekend.

   Still rolling: Two-time defending Section 2 hockey champion Bethlehem improved to 14-1 with a 2-0 win over G/M/S/V/S.

   Junior Jack Carroll scored the goals and Mike Kurdziolek stopped 21 Storm shots to register the shutout.

   "They are a very talented team. We didn't come out playing our best but we hung in there and played until the end, that is really all that matters," Bethlehem coach Dylan Lappe said.

   G/M/S/V/S, which had been unbeaten in league play, is a combination of Guilderland, Mohonasen, Schalmont, Voorheesville and Scotia-Glenville.

   Thursday action: Northstar Christian guard Ryan Garwood broke a Section 5 record by making 13 3-pointers in 20 attempts in a 107-51 boys basketball rout of Global Concepts. Chris Verosky set the record of 12 in 2007 for C.G. Finney.

      Buffalo Sacred Heart girls basketball senior Siobhan Ryan now holds the school record in points scored with 1,634 after connecting for 30 in a 65-44 victory against Mount Mercy. Ryan is a University of Richmond commit.

   Softball news: There is a significant change to the softball landscape coming this spring:

   Deposit has won four of the last five NYSPHSAA state Class D titles. The squad has also won the last six (and eight of nine Section 4 championships.

   Following up, Part 1: Section 8 administrators hope to have a policy on lopsided scores in place for all team sports by September, Newsday reported.

   Dom Vulpis, assistant executive director of the section, said a group of athletic directors met this week to draw up the framework for a uniform sportsmanship policy they said is "designed to serve a wider range of players with additional playing time while keeping the league competitive."


   Football, soccer, field hockey, basketball, lacrosse, baseball, softball and volleyball would potentially be affected. Coordinators for each team sport would have to determine the specific guidelines for what they would categorize as "an egregious sportsmanship issue involving scoring."

   Coaches of teams winning by margins judged to be excessive would face a penalty procedure that Vulpis described as a three-strike system of progressive discipline.

   The section has had a lopsided score policy in place in football since 2017. Plainedge's Rob Shaver became the first coach suspended under the policy in October following a 61-13 win because the six-person committee believed he kept starters on the field too deep into the contest.

   Following up, Part 2: A column by Rich Thomaselli of Hudson Valley Sports Report notes that the fallout from Carmel football coach Todd Cayea being in limbo is that the weight room is not open, which would seem to be an obvious hindrance for a football program coming off a 42-14 loss to eventually NYSPHSAA Class AA champion New Rochelle in the Section 1 title contest.

   North Tonawanda athlete dies: North Tonawanda's Michael Marra, a 17-year-old senior who competed in volleyball, swimming and lacrosse, died Tuesday following a car accident in Wheatfield.

   This spring would have been his fourth varsity lacrosse season. Jacks coach Matt Sledziewski called him "a student of the game" on the field and driven by team success rather than individual accolades.

   "Everything he was told to go and do, he did," Sledziewski said. "Sometimes he'd be asked to play long-pole middie, there's been a time I even gave him a short stick and said, 'I need you to do this.' And his answer was, 'Yes coach, whatever the team needs.' He was just one of those athletes that even if he wasn't the best at where you needed him, he'll do his best for the team. He wasn't an individual, at all."

   Staying put for now: Park School will continue to play boys basketball in the New York State Association of Independent Schools next season, AD Marcus Hutchins told The Buffalo News.

   Park shifted from the CHSAA to the NYSAIS this winter because the school could not get a favorable eligibility status for senior John Orogun as the Monsignor Martin Association determined he did not qualify for a waiver of its rule against allowing senior transfers to play. Orogun returned to Park after a year at St. Benedict's in New Jersey.

   "With our school being a kindergarten through grade 12, it's a different dynamic than a Catholic high school," Hutchins said. "The New York State Association of Independent Schools, their rules and regulations line up better with ours and we look a lot like those schools (in NYSAIS)."

   Although last-minute scheduling has been a challenge this year -- the team recently played in Canada on Friday, New York City the next two days and Rochester on Monday in one stretch -- Park has multiple tournament invitations in hand for next season to help fill out the schedule.

   However, a much-anticipated non-leaguer with St. Joe's scheduled for this Monday has been canceled, with Park officials citing a need for more home games as a matter of budgeting. Park hasn't played a home game since Dec. 1.

   Back in business: Veteran Section 5 football coach Dave Whitcomb is returning to the sideline at Midlakes, where he enjoyed some of his greatest success.

   Whitcomb, 68, replaces fourth-year coach Doug Allard, who stepped down due to family considerations. Whitcomb inherits a program on a 21-game losing streak.

   "I'm trying to be positive with kids," said Whitcomb, whose 217 career victories rank behind only retired Hornell coach Gene Mastin's 240 in Section 5 history. "You have to believe and expect to win. I told the kids I don't expect to lose. Every situation I've walked into has been very similar to this in a lot of ways. Kids' basic needs are no different than they were when I got into coaching. They want to be respected, and you want them to respect you. They may say they don't want to work and they don't want discipline, but they do."

   Whitcomb was 70-39-1 with two sectional titles in his previous stint at Midlakes from 1986-97. He's also been the head coach at Avon, Aquinas, Greece Arcadia, Geneva (where he won three sectional crowns and a NYSPHSAA title) and Fairport.

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