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Wednesday, April 29, 2020: And now we start turning our attention to the fall

   Leading off today: It's a near certainty that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will announce by the end of the week that schools will not re-open this spring, which will put a de facto end to spring high school sports before they even had a chance to get started.

   Eyes will turn toward the fall season in short order, and that's where the NYSPHSAA is prepared to start looking.

   Robert Zayas, executive director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, said Monday that he will convene a committee of health and education officials to begin discussing what steps should be taken if it looks like coronavirus could impact the start of the 2020-21 school year.    Zayas said the committee could start meeting by the end of May if necessary.

   Zayas announced on Monday that the NYSPHSAA will not conduct championships this spring, citing the short potential schedule even if schools reopen next month. The NYSPHSAA already had to shut down its basketball and hockey championships before their conclusion and did not conduct its annual state bowling tournament.

   "As a former participant in a state championship in Texas growing up, I still remember my splits from the two-mile that I ran in outdoor track and field,” Zayas said, "so I realize the impact this has upon students, and that's the most disappointing thing for me as the executive director, as a former athlete and as a father."

    • Shortly after the NYSPHSAA announcement about the spring season, the Section 2 Executive Committee announced that it was canceling its sectional championships for spring sports.

    • Section 6 also has canceled its spring championships and has made regular-season contests contingent upon schools being reopened by June 1. because of the long current layoff, any practices held before the shutdown will not count toward the minimum requirements of 10 for baseball and six for other sports before contests can be held.

    • The Catholic High School Athletic Association has canceled its state championships but would allow schools to practice and compete through June 30.

   "We could have some semblance of a season and even some sort of a (diocesan) championship, but it's not the highest priority as we look to a possible spring season," said Our Lady of Mercy athletic director Karen Andreone who represents the Diocese of Rockville Centre on the state council. “We want those, but more important we want the student-athletes to finish their school year with a sense of normalcy."

   New coach, same result: Muffet McGraw, who retired last week after 33 years as the women's basketball coach at the University of Notre Dame, has routinely been successful recruiting top prospects from downstate New York in recent years. And now her replacement has scored a big win.

   Ursuline junior Sonia Citron made a verbal commitment to the Irish and new coach Niele Ivey over the weekend.

   "It felt like the right decision, so I didn't want to wait anymore," Citron said. "Other than everything Notre Dame has to offer in terms of education and tradition, it came down to Coach Ivey and hearing what she has planned for the program. I'm just really excited to be part of it now."

   Ivey first reached out to Citron two years ago before she left Notre Dame to work for the Memphis Grizzlies. She was named as McGraw's replacement last week.

   Citron's other finalist was Stanford, with Duke, Michigan, and North Carolina also on the short list after a season is which the 6-foot-1 guard averaged 23.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game.

   The current Fighting Irish roster includes forward Danielle Cosgrove of Sachem East. Former New York scholastic stars Danielle Patterson (Indiana) and Jordan Nixon (Texas A&M), both from The Mary Louis Academy, transferred out of Notre Dame before the 2019-20 season.



   All-state progress: I plan on finishing up the coding of the NYSSWA girls basketball all-state team over the next few days and it will be published Wednesday, May 6. Mike Libert and Jeff Mlinar put a tremendous amount of work into assembling the key information for the selections.

   Section 2 football mourns: Two big names from the Section 2 football coaching ranks have died in recent days.

   Murry O'Neil, who brought football to Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and coached in Section 2 for six decades died of natural causes on Thursday at the age of 90.

   O'Neil started up the football, wrestling and track and field programs at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in 1955. He coaches the football squad until 1984, posting a 131-103-7 record. His last three teams won league championships.

   O'Neil continued coaching at different levels at Ballston Spa, Saratoga Springs, Queensbury, South Glens Falls, and Saratoga Catholic until 2010.

   Hoosick Falls football coach Ron Jones died Monday of an apparent heart attack. He was 51.

   Hoosick Falls captured a Section 2-record six straight sectional titles from 2009-14, including the state Class C championship in 2012 when the Panthers ended Hornell's 51-game winning streak.

   Jones played at Hoosick Falls for legendary coach Ken Baker, graduating in 1986, and then played at Cortland. He returned to his alma mater and reshaped a struggling program.

   "Ron had that special knack, no matter who he was talking with, whether it was kids, administration or coaches, to connect with people," veteran Section 2 coach Jack Burger said. "There was nothing fake about Ron Jones. He was a great human being. My heart goes out to his family and the Hoosick Falls community."

   More deaths reported recently: Retired Deer Park baseball coach Carmine Argenziano, died Saturday at the age of 74 of complications from COVID-19. The Italian immigrant was part of the first graduating class of Deer Park High School in 1964.

    • Thomas Wetzen, a retired coach, physical education teacher and athletic director at Akron, died Saturday of COVID-19 at the age of 92. He was Akron's baseball coach from 1956 to 1989, winning five Section 6 titles. He also served as football coach from 1953 to 1981, with 105 wins and six league championships.

    • Charles Bullock, a star athlete at Tappan Zee who later became a trailblazing African-American fire chief, died from COVID-19 on April 20 at age 80.

   Bullock's wife Lois died of the same illness on April 3, as did their daughter, Chanda Lori Bullock-Ogburn, on April 17.

   Charles Bullock graduated from Tappan Zee in 1958 and was inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012. He co-captained TZ's 1958 Rockland County Championship basketball team and earned All-Rockland County honors in football and basketball.

   Back to the sidelines: Art Troilo Jr., the former longtime Harrison coach, has been hired to coach football at Valhalla, pending board of education approval. He replaces Steve Boyer, who resigned to spend more time with his family and will assist at Byram Hills.

   Troilo, 59, won 196 games and NYSPHSAA titles in 1999 and 2002 at Harrison, where he coaches for 28 seasons.

   Valhalla is coming off its first Section 1 championship since 1998.

   Extra points: Hudson Falls junior basketball star Jonathan Beagle, an honorable mention all-state pick, will transfer to St. Thomas More School in Connecticut in the fall. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 19.8 points per game and also had double-digit rebounds per game last season. Beagle plans to reclassify to the Class of 2022.

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