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Wednesday, April 22, 2020: All-state basketball player dies in crash

   Leading off today: A two-time all-state boys basketball player finishing up his senior year at Westhill High School dies early Wednesday in a rollover crash in the Town of Geddes.

   Zechariah Brown, 18, died when the vehicle he was driving rolled over on Route 695, according to Sgt. Jon Seeber,Onondaga County Sheriff's Office spokesman. Although weather appears to have contributed to the crash, the cause remains under investigation, Seeber said.

   Brown, a senior, was named to the New York State Sportswriters Association all-state team last week. He scored 1,293 career points and was a member of Westhill's NYSPHSAA Class B championship team.

   LuHi announces new coach: Former Long island Lutheran standout Christina Raiti is set to take over head coaching duties following the resignation of Rich Slater last week, Newsday reported.

   Raiti, 26, spent the past four seasons as an assistant at LuHi.

   "I already have a relationship with some of the girls," Raiti said. "Probably one of the tougher parts is going to be changing that role. But we have a great group of kids, so I couldn't ask for a better group to step into."

   Raiti played on the Crusaders' first New York State Federation championship team in 2011. The four-year starter went on to play at Trinity College in Connecticut.

   Slater stepped down recently with a 234-58 record and four Federation championships in 12 seasons. LuHi was 22-1 this season.

   Sections 8, 11 call off spring season: Any chance of a spring sports season at Long Island public high schools ended Tuesday when administrators for Sections 8 and 11 announced the cancellation of the spring season amid concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

   "This pandemic is bigger than high school sports. Our primary concern is our students and our communities," said Pat Pizzarelli, executive director of Section 8. "We're the second-most prevalent area in the state with the COVID-19 infection, according to the governor. ... Even if there was a miracle, how are we expected to play sports and practice social distancing? It's not possible. We need to protect our kids."

   Administrators in both counties met this week and concluded that even a shorter, modified season wasn't possible.

   "I feel terrible for our seniors, as we all do," Jericho Superintendent Hank Grishman said. "Kids are missing out on so many levels, so many activities, and we all remember our last season of sports in our senior year. That last season is so significant in saying goodbye to your high school. We knew probably two weeks ago that we didn't have a choice. We held off as long as we possibly could. It's the right decision, yet a very painful one."

   Said Tom Combs, executive director of Section 11: "The 33 members of our Athletic Council present at the meeting voted unanimously that this was the responsible thing to do."

   Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last week extended the shutdown of schools through at least May 15.

   The New York State Public High School Athletic Association is expected to make an announcement regarding the spring season on Monday based on feedback from the leadership of the 11 member sections.

   Long Island track pioneer dies: Bob Baratta, the founder of Section 8' winter track program, died Wednesday at the age of 88.

   Baratta, at one time the sectional coordinator for cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track, taught and coached at Great Neck South from 1964-1994. His cross country teams compiled a 350-34 record and the track teams went 414-38.


   Former editor arrested: The former sports editor of the Amsterdam Recorder was arrested last week in connection with money missing from a youth baseball organization, Albany-area media reported.

   Paul Antonelli, 56, of Amsterdam was charged by the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office with third-degree grand larceny, a Class D felony. Antonelli was arraigned via Skype and released. he will return to Amsterdam City Court at a later date.

   Antonelli works as a staff sportswriter for The Daily Gazette Co., which publishes The Daily Gazette and The Recorder.

   Police began an investigation last month after receiving a report of unaccounted for funds belonging to the Amsterdam Cal Ripken Baseball League. League treasurer Bryan Clute said he filed the complaint.

   "Based off of the records I pulled, it looked like we have lost a significant amount of money over the past two years," Clute said. "I'd set (a count of) that money anywhere between $25,000 and $47,000 between the two years. There are some discrepancies because not all of the records were turned over to me to do my research."

   Clute was appointed treasurer of the baseball league in October 2018 and didn't have access to the organization's books until last spring. He said he believes the alleged missing money is the result of concession-stand revenue that wasn't deposited.

   Idaho controversy new a federal case: Idaho is the new battleground in the dispute over whether transgender athletes can be barred from competition.

   The Fairness in Women's Sports Act was signed last month by Idaho Gov. Brad Little and prohibits transgender athletes from competing in sports consistent with their gender identity. The law is set to take effect July 1 and a federal lawsuit was filed last Wednesday by two civil rights groups on behalf of two athletes.

   The American Civil Liberties Union and the Legal Voice say the Idaho law violates both the U.S. Constitution and Title IX, which bars sex discrimination in educational programs receiving federal funding.

   Little said he signed the bill into law because cisgender girls should have the "right to participate without having to be concerned about who they're competing with."

   Three Connecticut cisgender female high school athletes are suing the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference over a policy that allows students to participate in sports based on their gender identity.

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