Sunday, January 31, 2010

Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge recap - a day of DiBacco

Despite a lack of wireless internet during the games, here is a recap of the Coaches vs. Cancer High School Challenge at Siena College Sunday afternoon.
Brothers and head coaches Guy DiBacco (Lansingburgh) and Orlando DiBacco (Bishop Maginn) led their teams to victories.

Lansingburgh's Salaam Knight leaps for a layup over Cohoes' Reggie Johnson during Sunday's Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge game at Siena College. Knight scored 12 points and was named the game's Most Outstanding Player. (All photos by Tom Killips - The Record).

Lansingburgh played without 6-foot-10 senior center Tyler Hammett, and junior sensation Sajae Pryor was limited to just three points with a sore thumb. Up stepped Knight to take care of the scoring in a 56-21 Colonial Council victory over the Tigers.

"There was a lot of pressure on me because Sajae had two good games leading up to this one and he wasn’t doing what he had to do," Knight said. "He told me to step up and I had to step up."

Lansingburgh's Marcus Little slashes his way between Cohoes defenders Eric Maxwell (left) and Nate Monson (right) during Sunday's action at Siena.

Everyone on the roster except Blake Mosley scored at least two points, but Mosley added three nifty assists in the second half for the Knights. The fact that the Knights can get the job done without Hammett and a less-than-healthy Pryor has to be an uplifting thought for sectionals if those two fall into foul trouble late in a key game.

Guy DiBacco, hopes however, that both will be back ASAP.

"Hopefully it’s just temporary. He (Pryor) struggled holding on to the ball in the second half," DiBacco said. "We had the trainer here look at it and it doesn’t seem to be anything other than a normal jam. Holding on to the ball with a weaker thumb and tape is just something he’ll have to get used to."

Lansingburgh's Dominic Fruscio floats through the lane during Sunday's game against Cohoes at Siena. He scored four points and made four assists as the sixth man.

For the full story on the Lansingburgh-Cohoes game, make sure to pick up Monday's edition of The Record.

LANSINGBURGH 56, COHOES 21
Cohoes (21): Fogarty 1-0-3, LeMay 2-2-6, Shivers 4-1-9, Maxwell 0-1-1, Skaarup 0-2-2. Totals: 7-6-21.
Lansingburgh (56): Drake 2-0-5, Knight 5-2-13, Little 1-0-2, Pryor 1-1-3, Nichols 2-0-5, Fruscio 1-1-4, Garner 1-0-2, J.Jones 1-0-2, O.Jones 6-0-12, Laustrup 1-1-3, Luce 2-0-5. Totals: 23-5-56.
Cohoes (4-7, 4-10) 6 3 4 8 - 21
Lansingburgh (10-1, 13-2) 10 12 19 15 - 56
3-point goals: Cohoes 1 (Fogarty 1). Lansingburgh 5 (Drake 1, Knight 1, Nichols 1, Fruscio 1, Luce 1).

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Sunday's other games certainly were exciting. Guilderland's Ryan Ochs scored a game-high 24 points as the Dutchmen held off a feisty Mohonasen team, 46-39, in a Suburban Council showdown.

It was a fun back-and-forth game as the lead changed four times and the score was tied on seven other occasions.

GUILDERLAND 46, MOHONASEN 39
Guilderland (46): Brown 1-0-2, Gallo 2-3-8, Drislane 0-4-4, Ochs 9-4-24, Murray 4-0-8. Totals: 16-11-46.
Mohonasen (39): B.Manikas 1-2-4, Kruzinski 3-1-8, Sisson 2-2-7, Brown 3-0-7, Dalton 2-1-5, Tallman 1-0-3, Schaninger 1-3-5. Totals: 13-9-39.
Guilderland (5-7, 6-8) 9 12 14 11 – 46
Mohonasen (3-9, 4-10) 11 12 9 7 – 39
3-point goals: Guilderland 3 (Ochs 2, Gallo 1). Mohonasen 4 (Kruzinski 1, Sisson 1, Brown 1, Tallman 1).

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In the late games featuring Albany's private schools, Bishop Maginn certainly made a statement and the Albany Academy team, well it did, too.

Maginn clung to a narrow lead throughout the game but Newburgh, the reigning New York State Class AA champions and the current No. 2 team in the state, surged ahead by a point with 5:34 to play in the fourth quarter.

That was when Chris Jeffers took over. The Maginn senior scored eight points and grabbed three rebounds in the final period, willing the Griffins to a 60-56 victory over the Goldbacks.

It was a bit of a retribution victory for Maginn in two ways. One, Newburgh had knocked them off a season ago downstate and two, the Griffins lost a game to Big 10 rival Friday night in the Collar City.

"They beat us last year when we went to their house," Jerel Scott, the game's Most Outstanding Player, said. "We knew when they came back we had to beat them in a statement game. This is a new beginning for us."

BISHOP MAGINN 60, NEWBURGH FREE ACADEMY 56
Newburgh (56): Cousar 4-4-12, Henderson 1-0-2, Scurlock 5-0-11, Bouton 2-3-7, McMillan 4-0-8, Johnson 5-1-11, Hopper 2-1-5. Totals: 23-9-56.
Bishop Maginn (60): Scott 5-0-12, Petruccione 4-1-11, Fields 3-1-7, Jeffers 5-4-14, Scurry 7-0-14, Johnson 1-0-2. Totals: 25-6-60.
Newburgh (7-2) 6 20 19 11 – 56
Bishop Maginn (9-3, 11-3) 11 18 16 15 – 60
3-point goals: Newburgh 1 (Scurlock 1). Bishop Maginn 4 (Scott 2, Petruccione 2).

In the final game of the day, the Nichols School of Buffalo stormed to a first quarter lead against Albany Academy and never looked back, defeating the Cadets 65-43.

University of Virginia-bound Will Regan scored 19 points and snared 22 rebounds in 26 minutes for Nichols (11-5), the No. 12 ranked Class A team in the state.

Still, Albany Academy has raised over $30,000 for the American Cancer Society the past two years by hosting this event and no matter the results on the court, the Cadets (7-8) certainly made a difference in the community.

"I’m going to look in the mirror because I didn’t do a good job and I asked them to look in the mirror, too," Academy head coach Brian Fruscio said. "That’s how we get better. It was our day as an institution, but it wasn’t our day as a basketball team."

For more on these games, check out Monday's edition of The Record.

NICHOLS 65, ALBANY ACADEMY 43
Nichols (65): Regan 8-2-19, Clauss 2-3-7, MacKinnon 1-2-5, Vandegriff 5-2-12, Wier 9-1-20. Totals: 25-10-65.
Albany Academy (43): White 3-2-9, Currie 1-0-2, McCarthy 1-0-3, Benocs 4-0-8, Hart 5-6-18, Alley 0-1-1, Davis 1-0-2. Totals: 15-9-43.
Nichols (11-5) 14 13 16 22 – 65
Albany Academy (7-8) 6 11 11 15 – 43
3-point goals: Nichols 3 (Regan 1, MacKinnon 1, Wier 1). Albany Academy 4 (Hart 2, White 1, McCarthy 1).

Here is a complete list of the All-Academic and All-Challenge teams announced after the games Sunday.

All-Academic team
Josh LeMay – Cohoes
Dominic Fruscio – Lansingburgh
Brian Manikas - Mohonasen
Michael Drislane – Guilderland
Eddie Hopper – Newburgh
Dylan Tully - Maginn
Matt Filanova – Albany Academy
Andrew McKinnon – Nichols Schools

All-Challenge team
Josh LeMay – Cohoes
Salaam Knight – Lansingburgh, Most Outstanding Player
Quinton Brown – Mohonasen
Anthony Gallo – Guilderland
Ryan Ochs – Guilderland, Most Outstanding Player
Devon McMillan – Newburgh
Jarrod Scurlock – Newburgh
John Scurry – Maginn
Jerel Scott – Maginn, Most Outstanding Player
Nolan Hart – Albany Academy
David Benocs – Albany Academy
Conner Vandegriff – Nichols School
Stan Wier – Nichols School
Will Regan – Nichols School, Most Outstanding Player

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Maple Hill makes it a clean sweep of Ichabod Crane

Maple Hill's Chris Despart slices his way through the Ichabod Crane defenders en route to scoring a game-high 17 points for the Wildcats in a 51-39 victory over the Riders. Maple Hill are now tied atop the Patroon Conference standings with identical 13-1 records. (Photos by Tom Killips - The Record).

The crowd at Maple Hill High School Saturday night cannot be underestimated. Fans stood, packed shoulder-to-shoulder like sardines inside the lobby, unable to find a seat on the jam-packed bleachers. Many fans just went to hang out in the cafeteria and never saw more than a glimpse of the action through the windows on the gymnasium doors.

The noise and the sea of fans rattled the Maple Hill girls early on in their game against Ichabod Crane, but the Wildcats rallied for a 42-35 victory over the Lady Riders.

The boys, however, were bouyed by the noise, elevating for a 51-39 victory, moving into a first place tie with Ichabod in the Patroon Conference standings.

It's one of Section II's terrific rivalries, but it's one that could likely disappear next season. Ichaobd Crane is moving to the Colonial Council. While the move will open up a pair of non-league games for all of the schools in the Patroon, it's still unclear whether the neighbors, set 10 miles apart, will be able to meet during the 2010-11 season. Crane, a Class A school, would likely try to schedule non-league games at the Class A level or above, if at all possible.

"Next year we’ll have two non-league games available," said Maple Hill head coach Mark Bubniak. "I was talking to Cori (Ichabod Crane head coach Cori Drummond) before the game and we’d like to play at least one game. We’d like to keep it going. You look out here and it’s great that these schools are 10 miles apart. It’s great for school spirit and we’d love to do it, if we can, we’ll do it again."

Senior forward Jake Jasiewicz played a great game for the Maple Hill boys, making a stunning diving steal attempt that bounced off an Ichabod player and gave the Wildcats possession. They scored on the ensuing possession and never looked back.

As one of the seniors playing out the rivalry, he would surely be sad to see it go, but certainly made the last one memorable should the teams miss out on a chance for future non-league games.

"It was fantastic," Jasiewicz said. "It was one of the best games I’m ever going to play in my life. The crowd, the atmosphere…they couldn’t fit everybody in the gym. Just that and the support from the community was amazing. On both ends."

For more on how Jasiewicz would run through a brick wall for Maple Hill head coach Scott Hanrahan, be sure to check out Sunday's edition of The Record.

Maple Hill's Sean Danaher takes a shot over the outstretched arms of Ichabod Crane's Chris Larm during Saturday's Patroon Conference victory. Danaher finished with 12 points and nine rebounds.

Maple Hill (13-1, 13-1), the No. 6 ranked Class C team in New York, certainly scored a major victory over Ichabod Crane (13-1, 13-1), the No. 15 ranked Class A team in the Empire State.

Familiar with the huge crowds they saw at Hudson Valley Community College and the Glens Falls Civic Center during their run to the 2008-09 New York State Class C championship game, the Wildcats thrived on the mass of fans Saturday night, using runs of 10-2 and 9-2 to bury the Riders in the first quarter. Crane clawed its way back to within four points in the third quarter, but Jasiewicz's diving tip play helped the Wildcats surge ahead for good.

"I’ve tried not to harp on last year too much with these guys because this is a new group and a new team," said Maple Hill head coach Scott Hanrahan. "Although there are six guys back from that squad, it’s a new season. It’s a new team. I think the fact that we’ve dealt with these kinds of crowds before that these guys feed off that. We talked about that in our pregame. And we had help out there tonight. They did a great job and they do feed off of it. When we can get our fast break going, at the end of the first quarter we made a nice little run, and the crowd got fired up. Our guys just get that look on their faces, that little look and that little swagger. It’s just fun to watch them."

Including three CYO games prior to the varsity action Saturday, the Castleton teams won all five games they played against their opponents from Valatie.

Maple Hill junior center Katie Roth scored 27 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and made six blocks for Maple Hill in a come-from-behind victory over Ichabod Crane. It was also Maple Hill's 60th consecutive Patroon Conference victory.

The Maple Hill girls were perhaps spooked by the crowd in the first quarter, allowing Ichabod to build a seven point lead in the first few minutes. But the Wildcats calmed down and settled into their halfcourt offense, feeding Katie Roth the ball on the inside and taking trips to the foul line to earn the victory.

Maple Hill made just 14 of 31 free throw attempts, but that proved to be the difference in a 42-35 victory over the Riders (11-3, 11-3).

Maple Hill, the No. 1 ranked Class C team in New York State, improved to 14-0 this season in the Patroon Conference. The Wildcats last lost a league game on Nov. 30, 2006, dropping a 43-40 decision to Hudson. In the 165 weeks and 1,157 days since, the Wildcats have won a pair of Section II Class C title and played 60 Patroon Conference games without losing a single one.

"Everyone works hard all the time," Roth said. "You don’t get that far and get that kind of a record without working hard. We always want to win, especially on our home floor in front of our home fans. It’s a big accomplishment anyway. I’m glad to be a part of it and I’m sure everyone on my team is as well."

Maple Hill's Jessica Dailey (30) drives past Ichabod Crane's Chrissy James during Saturday's Patroon Conference game. Dailey made two assists, two steals and added one point from the free throw line in the victory.

The Castleton Crazies certainly made themselves heard Saturday night and we'll soon see if they're packing Hudson Valley and Glens Falls in the weeks to come.

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Check back here Sunday, as I hope to be live blogging and Tweeting from the Siena College ARC for the four Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge games, beginning at Noon with a Colonial Council clash between Lansingburgh and Cohoes.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Rogers' jumper a Bison-beater

Shenendehowa's Emily Weber dribbles around Shaker's Rhiannon Spencer during Friday's Suburban Council North Division contest at Shaker High School. Weber was the one tabbed to take the last-second shot, but Meg Rogers got open and sank it instead, lifting the Lady Plainsmen to a 49-47 victory. (All photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

With 1.7 seconds remaining in a tie game, Shen's Andrea Mangione was trying to make an inbound pass along the baseline intended for Emily Weber. Weber, however, couldn't get open, and as a five-second violation neared, she passed to Meg Rogers, who sank the game-winner as time expired.

"As soon as I got the ball, I just shot," Rogers said. "I knew it had to go in."

Shaker's Lauren Woods lines up for a jumper during Friday's game. Woods finished with three points and two rebounds, but her replacement off the bench in the fourth quarter, Madison Rowland, sparked a Blue Bison comeback.

Shaker trailed by 15 points with 5:20 to play but made an incredible rally to tie the game at 45 with 1:25 to go in the fourth quarter.

Adrianne Devine scored 20 points and made eights steals for Shaker (8-4, 10-4).

"Adrianne Devine, she was the kid who came out ready to go from the get-go," said Shaker head coach Emily Caschera. "She was the one that we tried to get everyone else on her back. She did it all for us. I wish at the end there were four other Adriannes out there tonight, for her intensity, for her desire. She was all over the court."

MacKenzie Rowland added five points, nine rebounds and five blocks for Shaker.

MacKenzie Rowland (left) battles for the ball with Shenendehowa's Allie Setter (right) during Friday's Suburban Council girls basketball game.

Shenendehowa (10-2, 10-2) is playing without point guard Marissa Ray, who is nursing an injured ankle. The Lady Plainsmen, more than ever, have adopted a selfless, defense-minded style of play that allows everyone to contribute to the best of their abilities.

"We play better when we play as a team and don’t rely on just one person or another," Rogers said. "I think tonight we tried to play as a team and I don’t think anyone, totally, was the star."

Shenendehowa High head coach Ken Strube (left) greets Shaker head coach Emily Caschera (right) prior to Friday's game. About a decade ago, Caschera was one of Strube's top players on dominant Shenendehowa teams. She played at the University of New Hampshire before getting the varsity head coaching job at Shaker last season.

For more on this game, make sure to check out Saturday's edition of The Record for the full story.

Ryan Kircher will also bring you a recap of Catholic Central's 50-30 victory over Albany High in a big-time Big 10 Conference showdown.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Watervliet wrestlers win second straight Colonial Council title

Watervliet's Mike Castle grapples with Albany Academy's Mory Gueye in a 285-pound match Thursday night at the Watervliet High School gymnasium. The Cannoneers won, 53-19, capturing their second consecutive Colonial Council regular season title with an 8-0 record. (Photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

On senior night at Watervliet, the senior class came up big. Four of the five Watervliet senior recorded victories via the pin, as the Cannoneers romped to a 53-19 victory over the previously unbeaten Cadets, who finished the regular season 7-1.

Watervliet, on the other hand, won its second consecutive Colonial Council regular season title, finishing 8-0 for the second year in a row.

Mike Castle (285), John Delaney (103), Cory Thompson (125) and Andrew Etman (130) all seniors, won with pins. James Valentin, the other Watervliet senior, dropped a 9-3 decision to Academy's Kyle DiCaprio.

The Cannoneers will compete in the Section II Class CC tournament at Schalmont on Saturday, Feb. 6th.

It was a great night of wrestling as the early pins - all of the first five bouts were decided that way - made the proceedings exciting.

I was also impressed by the brief ceremony before the wrestling began.

Watervliet head coach Dennis Lane said a few words about each of his seniors before welcoming them to the center of the gym with their parents. He also went out of his way to notice each and every one of the members of the Watervliet modified team, which I'm sure made their day, and also recognized the student managers and the seniors on the Albany Academy team. Lane introduced his parents as well, he called them his biggest fans, and noted that their 50th wedding anniversary is coming up.

The gym was packed, which was great, and it looks like the wrestling program at Watervliet continues to rise, thanks to their coach and the tough gapplers wearing the silver and maroon in the Arsenal City.

For more on this story, check out the full recap in Friday's edition of The Record.

Watervliet senior John Delaney pins Albany Academy's Cameron Milliken in a 103-pound bout Thursday night. It was Delaney's 159th victory, by far the highest total in Watervliet history.

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Averill Park leads the charge in Coaches vs. Cancer fundraising

Do not adjust your screen - Averill Park High School boys basketball head coach Dave Pugliese will look a little something like this, perhaps a bit more purple-ish in the beard, Friday night when the Warriors host Bethlehem in a Suburban Council contest. (Photo and color edit - The Record).

The Averill Park boys basketball program set a goal to raise $5,000 for Coaches vs. Cancer, a subsidiary of the American Cancer Society, but they needed some motivation to get there. That was when head coach Dave Pugliese pledged to dye his goatee lavender if the Warriors could surpass the $5,000 mark.

Through the sale of T-Shirt, pin-ups around the 'Wall of Hope' outside the Averill Park High School gym and donations, Averill Park surpassed that goal and Pugliese will go purple Friday night when the Warriors host Bethlehem in a Suburban Council game at 7 p.m.

Almost every team around Section II helps raise a few bucks for Coaches vs. Cancer, many by holding 50/50 raffles, or charging an extra dollar for a program. A year ago, Section II teams (including soccer, football, volleyball teams and nearly every other sport was involved, too) raised $45,000, said Kate Dooley, the former Lansingburgh High and Siena College star that now works for the American Cancer Society. This year, the section-wide goal was set at $55,000 and with Averill Park's gargantuan effort, it looks like that mark will be shattered.

It was a personal situation at Averill Park, as many of the players and coaches have been directly impacted by the disease in one way or another. The Warriors wore pink shoelaces to raise awareness for breast cancer a few seasons ago, but on the insistence and energy of Robin Pugliese, Dave's wife, Averill Park raised some serious cash.

Robin, a first grade teacher in the district, organized a campaign to sell 'Fear the Warrior' T-Shirts - the rear says 'Fight for the cure' with a lavender ribbon on the sleeve. Lavender is the official color of general cancer awareness. Students quickly snapped up the t-shirts and they wear them to games to show their support to a pair of causes.

Averill Park isn't the only school to have made a difference in the Coaches vs. Cancer program.

Brian Fruscio, head coach of the boys team at the Albany Academies, has raised over $30,000 the last two years by hosting events at Siena College and Times Union Center. Much of that money came from sponsors and big-ticket raffles.

The Cadets host another Coaches vs. Cancer event this Sunday, January 31 at the Siena College ARC. Here is your schedule, and don't forget to pick up a program to see this year's sponsors.
Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for students and families will get in for $15. All proceeds, of course, go to the ACS.

2009-10 Coaches vs. Cancer High School Challenge at Siena College
Colonial Council
Cohoes vs. Lansingburgh, Noon
Suburban Council
Guilderland vs. Mohonasen, 1:45 p.m.
Non-league
Newburgh vs. Bishop Maginn, 3:30 p.m.
Nichols vs. Albany Academy, 5:15 p.m.

For more information, visit www.capitalcoachesvs.cancer.org

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

NYS High School football All-Star game set; new hoops website

Two interesting pieces of news today on the New York State Sportswriters Association website.

First, a New York State High School football All-Star game will take place on June 6 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. It replaces the old New York-New Jersey game that used to take place every year, but has since disappeared.

The game will use an upstate-downstate format and teams will be selected at an upcoming NYS head coaches meeting.

For more information, read this story in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

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The NYSSWA has created a new website: www.roadtoglensfalls.com, which, much like its counterpart for football, www.roadtosyracuse.com, is a must-see destination for information on high school basketball in the Empire State.

You'll find the weekly state polls posted on the new site every Thursday. You can also find lists of records, past champions and view headlines from other newspapers from around the state.

Let's hope they can keep the name Glens Falls in the address from quite some time.

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Basketball schedule changes

The Suburban Council has announced that two boys basketball games are moving to a neutral-site location in February.

At the former Pepsi Arena in Albany on Tuesday, February 9, Saratoga Springs will face Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, followed by a game between Shenendehowa and Niskayuna.

Tickets for adults cost $6 and will run to $4 for students.

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In other news, the Coaches vs. Cancer High School Challenge will take place at Siena College, this Sunday, January 31. For more information, a complete schedule and ticket prices, click here to view the Capital Region Coaches vs. Cancer website.

Make sure to check out The Record on Friday for a story on how Coaches vs. Cancer is reaching out to schools from all across Section II.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Sorensen making farewell tour through CHVL; Heffern saying hello

Waterford-Halfmoon senior guard Jackie Sorensen spins around an Emma Willard defender during Monday's game. She is the all-time leading scorer, boys or girls, in Waterford history. (Photos by Tom Killips - The Record).

Jackie Sorensen has been giving opposing coaches headaches for the last five years and she's making her farewell tour around the Central Hudson Valley League this season. Many of them, including Emma Willard's Tony Holston, are going out of their way to wish her well in the second half of the regular season.

You can read Monday's story on Sorensen by clicking here.

Heatly Schools sophomore Melissa Heffern takes a break at midcourt during Tuesday's practice. A guard, she is averaging about 18 points per game and is getting to the foul line better than every player but one in Section II.

As Sorensen is making one last swing around the CHVL, Heatly's Melissa Heffern is just saying hello. Also a varsity player since the eighth grade, Heffern is emerging as a sophomore. She leads the team in scoring and is a high-flying ballhandler, unafraid to drive to the rim or take her lumps and make the other team pay at the foul line.

Heffern certainly comes from a basketball family. Her father, Peter, is the boys varsity basketball coach at Heatly, and her brother Peter, a senior, is one of the team's shooting stars.

Her aunt, Michelle Heffern, is one of the all-time leading scorers in Heatly history and she went on to play at Florida International University and Siena College.

Most game are family affairs for Melissa. Her grandmother will videotape the games so that Melissa can review the film with her father, who is usually busy coaching the boys when she's playing. Aunt Michelle is often on hand to offer advice and Melissa also has a friendly soccer-goal and basketball-points scoring challenge with her brother.

Heatly might not have enough in the tank to catch Germantown or Waterford in the CHVL standings this season - the Hornets currently sit in third place - but with Heffern improving by the day, she may be the one to fill Sorensen's shoes in the league.

Read the full story about Heffern and how she learned to develop a mean streak on the court in Wednesday's edition of The Record.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

'Burgh trio nearing triple 100-win milestone; no Section II duals this year

A trio of Lansingburgh High School wrestlers have already cracked the 100-win club or soon will and I had a chance to chat with them Saturday afternoon during a break in the action at the new-and-improved eighth annual Lansingburgh Duals tournament.

For the full story, check out Sunday's edition of The Record, but for a brief glance at each of the wrestlers, keep reading.

Austin Schnapp
Senior
160 pounds
2009-10 record: 23-2*

Schnapp got his start in wrestling after watching his older brother wrestle. A transfer from Cohoes, Schnapp is likely to win No. 100 during Sunday's action in the Lansingburgh Duals.

"It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I was younger," he said. "Ever since I was on modified, I looked up to people that had 100 wins. I always wondered if I would be there."

He also gave credit to Lansingburgh head coach Dan Bechand for always scheduling the best possible opponents and to Athletic Director Mike Harkin and the LHS administration for helping the sport grow.

"We get a lot of support from people from the school," he said. "A lot of people come to watch our matches and the administration is very supportive of our team."

Chad Obzud
Senior
171 pounds
2009-10 record: 28-1*

A fiery competitor, Obzud was quick with a laugh during our brief interview session. I asked the trio how they got their start in wrestling, starting with Schnapp, moving on to Richards and wrapping up with Obzud. When it was his turn, he just laughed.

"I got cut from the basketball team in seventh grade, so I wrestled instead," Obzud said. "It was addicting. As soon as I stared wrestling I had a lot of fun and loved it."

Like Schnapp, Obzud is a Cohoes transfer. He's hoping to wrestle for SUNY-Oneonta next year. The Red Dragons have the closest collegiate wrestling program to the Capital Region and Obzud also figures his mom can come watch him wrestle more that way.

Obzud craked the 100-win club two weeks ago and he said he hasn't felt the same since.

"I never thought it would feel the way it did, but I went out there and got my 100th win and it just felt great," Obzud said. "Once you start getting every match over 100, it’s like…wow. It’s a cool feeling.
"It’s a combination of all the hard work you put in and everything and just being able to get there," he continued. "I never thought I would be able to do it."

Will Richards
Senior
112 pounds
2009-10 record: 27-2*

Richards was born to be a wrestler - his father Ed, now an assistant with the Knights, was a fine wrestler in his day.

Will Richards has dedicated himself to offseason training, working with the Journeymen Wrestling program run by Frank Popolizio. The Journeymen organization has been a tremendous feeder program for Section II high schools and really explains why Section II wrestlers have been so successful in New York State competition over the past few years.

"In ninth grade, I wasn’t a great wrestler, but I just dedicated myself," he said. "I went to Journeymen and Frank Popolizio helped me out a ton to get me to where I am. Coming into this season, I thought it would be a struggle because I needed 30 wins and last year I only had 29. I’m just having a great season."

Richards won No. 100 Saturday afternoon, leaping into the arms of his father in a joyous embrace immediately after having his arm raised by the referee and shaking the Saratoga Springs coach's hand.

He hopes to wrestle at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. next year.

* Won-loss records accurate prior to Saturday's action
(Photo credits to J.S. Carras - The Record).

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The Section II Duals were not held this year due to a lack of interest. A 'free' event for any team in Section II, the area-wide duals offered teams an opportunity to congregate for a day of pre-sectionals matches without costing a team points against their total number of matches allowed.

With dual meets going on in Lansingburgh and in Fonda (more on Fonda later) only six teams were interested in participating in the duals, which was eventually declared too small a field to make the event worthwhile.

The first day of Lansingburgh's event went off without a hitch. 11 teams made the trek to Troy and each team will get nine quality matches this weekend. The brand-new Lansingburgh gym and athletic wing is a great facility and Cohoes and Mechanicville donated mats to provide three surfaces.

Lansingburgh head coach Dan Bechand defended his event while bemoaning the loss of the Section II Duals, an event the Knights typically attended when it was scheduled for a different weekend.

"I feel unfortunate about it," Bechand said. "But I had these 12 teams committed last year. I feel I didn’t take anything away from their tournament because of our scheduling. We had this scheduled this year.

"Both tournaments used to be different weekends, but this year, they moved it to this weekend, which conflicted with our tournament," he continued. "That is a free tournament for our section, so it doesn’t cost us any points. But these teams that are here committed two points for a tournament to fill their schedule with this tournament. I feel bad that the Section II tournament was canceled because it was a good tournament. I hope they can get it back next year. There was a lot of planning and a lot of effort put into this tournament, with family and friends and parents and all kinds of help from the outside from all over the place. They helped put this thing together."

In his 10th year at Lansingburgh, Bechand has expanded the Lansingburgh duals to a 12-team, two-day event. For the first seven years of its run, the duals were a one-day, six-team affair. The Knights drew teams from around Section II (Shaker, Niskayuna, Saratoga Springs, Mohonasen, Voorheesville, Bethlehem, Cambridge, Hudson Falls and Duanesburg - the No. 7 small school in the state) as well as Newburgh Free Academy.

He's right, it takes a lot of volunteers to make a tournament like that run smoothly, from the timers and scorekeepers to ticket-takers and concession stand workers.

Bechand is also hoping that the success stories of Schnapp, Obzud and Richards inspires more students on the north side of Troy to pick up wrestling, because the school administration is certainly dedicated to the sport.

"For the school to open up for a Saturday and a Sunday event, that’s tough nowadays," Bechand said. "Our athletic director, Mike Harkin, really opened up his arms. He’s been a great supporter of the team this year. He’s let us have our peewee program back, let us have a two-day tournament and he’s been very supportive and doing a lot of stuff for us. I’m very happy with that."

Wrestling continues at Lansingburgh on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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In the Fonda-Fultonville Duals, Columbia High School swept all five matches, giving head coach Anthony Servidone career win No. 100 in a round two victory over Canajoharie-Fort Plain.

Evan Wallace (140 pounds) recorded five wins (three pins and two technical falls), running his 2009-10 season record to 31-4. The Blue Devils were ranked No. 23 in the latest large school (Division I) New York State poll.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Keegan a fourth quarter warrior for Averill Park; news and notes

Averill Park senior center Kyle Keegan elevates for a shot over Shaker's Ben Capeless during Friday's Suburban Council game at Shaker High School. Keegan scored 12 points and added 14 rebounds, leading Averill Park to the 45-42 victory. (Photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Keegan scored 10 of his points and grabbed eight of his rebounds in the fourth quarter, coming up big in crunchtime for the Warriors. He also made all four free throws he attempted in the final stanza.

"When the chips are down, somebody has to step up and I figured, why not me?" Keegan said.

Shaker's Casey Hall dribbles past Averill Park's Zach Everett during Friday's game.

It was a baffling beginning for the Warriors, who did not score for the first five minutes and change of the first quarter. They rallied, however, for a 9-0 run to close out the period.

And in the second quarter, Shaker held the Warriors scoreless for a long stretch again, this time for the first 5:55. But a late lay-in from Kevin Rocco put the Warriors ahead by a single point heading into halftime.

Averill Park put together a 10-0 run midway through the third quarter and never looked back, as Keegan kept the Warriors in control in the final period.

"Kyle did well tonight," said Averill Park head coach Dave Pugliese. "He altered a lot of shots. He’s a great kid. He works really, really hard and I like to see him succeed. He gives great effort and he’s always there when we need him."

Shaker's Drew Lasky chases down a loose ball during Friday's game. There were plenty of rebound opportunities in this one, as both teams were cold-shooting from the opening tip.

With the victory - Averill Park's seventh over Class AA opponents this season - the Warriors took a one-game lead in the Suburban Council South Division, as South Colonie fell to Saratoga Springs and is now one game behind in the win column.

4-18 a season ago, the Warriors changed their attitude in the offseason, adapting to a selfless, pass-first type of team that waits for a good shot to develop. While the team didn't play that way early in Friday's game at Shaker, they've already doubled last season's win total. They'll be a factor in the Section II Class A postseason, no doubt.

"I think a lot of it is that we’re still growing," Pugliese said. "Like I said, we struggled last year for a reason. I think the first five minutes, not to take anything away from them, they played great defense, but we went back to taking bad shots and got frustrated. We tried to get ours instead of trying to execute and doing the stuff we do in practice."

For more on the Averill Park boys, check out Saturday's edition of The Record.

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It was a busy night Friday, and here are some of the top stories from around Section II.

The Lasningburgh boys topped Voorheesville in the Heldebergs thanks to a two-headed performance from Tyler Hammett and Sajae Pryor. The Knights now hold a one-game advantage in the win column over Voorheesville and Watervliet in the Colonial and they're on track for a second consecutive regular season title. For more on this story, read Ryan Kircher's account in Saturday's edition of The Record.

The Lansingburgh girls continued their hot streak in the Cololnial Council with an overtime victory over Voorheesville, jumping into a crowded race for second place behind Holy Names. The Knights are now 8-5 overall.

The Waterford boys defeated one of the top teams in the CHVL for the second time in three days, beating Heatly Friday night. Matt Berthiaume scored 23 points and added 15 rebounds, while Derrick Marchione added 17 points and seven rebounds for the surging Fordians (4-5, 5-8). Scott Averill added eight points and eight assists.
The Fordians had defeated New Lebanon Wednesday night when the Tigers were tied for first with Heatly.

At Loudonville Christian, Cullen Overholt topped the 1,000-point mark in a CHVL boys basketball victory over Berlin.

In the Big 10 Conference, the Albany High girls and the Christian Brothers Academy team remained undefeated atop their respective set of standings. La Salle, however, gave the Brothers a real test in the area's ultimate rivalry game, sticking within six points at the end.

In Suburban Council girls action, Shaker kept it close against Averill Park in the first half, but the Warriors used a 23-0 outburst in the third quarter to pull away for the big victory.

And in the battle for first place in Wasaren League, the Greenwich girls beat Hossic Valley at home for the second season in a row. The Witches scored 51 points on the Hoosic Valley defense, perhaps signaling a new era at the top of the Wasaren League standings.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lady Knights heating up; news and notes

Lansingburgh's Ariana Youngs goes for a layup during a game at Holy Names during the 2008-09 season. She recently became the sixth member of the Lansingburgh girls 1,000-point club. (Photo by Tom Killips - The Record).

Youngs, who is fairly shy and reserved for a team captain, admitted she had a fun day at school on Wednesday, when news of her 1,000th point led the morning announcements.

"I heard the announcements when I walked into school and they were talking about it. I was like, ‘Oh, man," she said. "But it was pretty fun. I rocked it."

Youngs and senior co-captain Alyssa Fane also had an important job before the season began, as they were among the seniors that served on a panel interviewing potential head coaches.

Krystal Hammond (left) runs a drill during Thursday's practice. The first-year head coach served as an assistant at Niskayuna for two years before coming to Lansingburgh. She was a star at Shenendehowa High and Union College not too long ago. (Practice photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

The players peppered Krystal Hammond and the other candidates with questions, but it was a particular answer that stuck with Fane.

"I remember her saying defense wins games and no one else had said that," said senior shooting guard Alyssa Fane. "Everyone else was focused on our offense and what we could do to score."

"From her background, she looked pretty good to me," senior point guard Ariana Youngs said. "I voted yes for her!"

Alyssa Fane is Youngs' counterpart in the backcourt and is the Knights' primary three-point shooting threat. A senior, she is also one of the top students in her class.

Youngs averages over 14 points per game and Fane adds a little more than 11 per contest, as they have created a near-unstoppable backcourt. Youngs can drive to the hoop and score, or kick it out to Fane on the perimeter, hoping for a wide-open three-point attempt.

Teammates together since their days in CYO, Youngs made her varsity debut as a seventh grade postseason call-up. Fane made the varsity team as a freshman and they've been putting up points ever since.

Krystal Hammond displays her free-throw shooting form during Thursday's practice.

With a victory over Watervliet on Tuesday, the Knights have joined a mad rush for second place in the Colonial Council behind Holy Names. Lansingburgh hosts Voorheesville at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Here are the standings. Since the Colonial Council doesn't allow room for non-league games this year, the league record displayed is all-inclusive.

Colonial Council
Holy Names (2, A), 11-0
Voorheesville (20, C), 8-4
Watervliet, 8-4
Cohoes, 7-5
Lansingburgh, 7-5
Mechanicville, 7-5
Alb. Acad. Girls, 6-6
Ravena, 4-8
Schalmont, 1-10
Cobleskill, 0-12

With Holy Names playing the way it has been playing, it looks like first place is out of reach, but second place is certainly up for grabs.

The Lady Knights have made a few adjustments on defense, which has sparked their recent 6-1 run.

"I think, finally, all five of us on the floor are starting to play together," Fane said. "It’s not just three at once or four at once, it’s all five of us. That’s been helping us out lately."

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In other 1,000-point mark news, Loudonville Christian's Cullen Overholt is also nearing the mark. He could set it Friday against Berlin.

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The annual Coaches vs. Cancer event hosted by the Albany Academies is nearing. Boys basketball games will be played at the Siena College ARC in Loudonville on Sunday, Jan. 31. With no NFL games that day, you don't have any excuses to miss it.

Noon -- Lansingburgh vs. Cohoes

1:45 p.m. -- Guilderland vs. Mohonasen

3:30 p.m. -- Newburgh vs. Bishop Maginn

5:15 p.m. -- The Albany Academy vs. Nicols

The gates for the event open at 11:30 a.m.

Tickets for the event are $5 per student for an all-day pass, $7 per person and $15 per family.

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In hockey news, the Albany Academy Alumni Association will retire Frank O’Brien III’s (Class of 1984 at The Albany Academy) jersey before the AA Varsity Hockey game vs. Pomfret this Saturday, January 23 at 4 p.m. – the first hockey jersey to be retired in Academy history.

Frank tragically passed away in December 2006 after a courageous battle with brain cancer. Members of the O’Brien family will be present for the ceremony on Saturday and announce a special gift to the hockey program.

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Time Warner Sports (TW3) will be broadcasting its first high school hockey game this Saturday January 23rd as Shenendehowa takes on CBA at RPI's Houston Field House, 7:00 pm.

This game will be a double header as RPI will play host to Harvard at 4:00 PM.

Ticket prices will be $5 for students & $10 for adults (for both games). Tickets can be purchased at the Houston Field House Box Office.

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High school basketball chat - live!

Join tonight's live chat (6 p.m. - 11 p.m.) by clicking on the play button in the window below!

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hammett narrowly misses triple-double as Knights top Cannoneers

Lansingburgh senior center Tyler Hammett (left) blocks a shot attempt by Watervliet's Kevin Pontore (21) during Tuesday's Colonial Council game on George Mardigan Court. Hammett finished with 10 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocks, sparking a key run late in the second quarter that provided the Knights a one-point lead heading into halftime. (Photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

While Tyler Hammett took care of defense and rebounds, Sajae Pryor was Lansingburgh's offensive hero Tuesday night. Pryor scored 32 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the 68-60 victory for Lansingburgh, which now holds a one-game lead over the Cannoneers in the Colonial Council standings.

Pryor scored 14 of Lansingburgh's 18 points in the first quarter, but the Knights began to play well only when the rest of the team got involved in the game.

"I wanted to keep them from sleeping," Pryor said. "It’s not just a single-man show. I couldn’t do it without my team. There’s a lot of people on the basketball court."

Watervliet's Kevin Pontore tries to thread the needle between Lansingburgh defenders Tyler Hammett (right) and Marcus Little (left). Pontore, the Cannoneers' low-post defender, finished the game with seven points and five rebounds.

Hammett made four blocks in the second quarter, sparking a number of fast break opportunities that ultimately gave Lansingburgh the lead for good - although Watervliet took a two-point lead seconds into the third quarter and never got it back.

"Sajae had a really good game but we know one person can’t win the whole game for us," Hammett said. "We knew we had to step it up. We came out in the second half and stepped it up. It was a close game and we started to pull away."

Lansingburgh point guard Alex Drake is defended by Watervliet's Devonte Gleason as Griffin Kelly (10) looks on in the background.

It was definitely an interesting game to watch, as Watervliet took the early lead, but Lansingburgh made its adjustments and crawled back before halftime before taking the leap in the second half.

You can never count out Watervliet, which made a great comeback in the first meeting between the teams on Dec. 8, but just couldn't close the deal, losing 64-62. Between Hammett, Pryor and Salaam Knight crashing the boards for Lansingburgh, the Cannoneers just didn't get enough second-chance points to make up for all their three-point misses late in the game.

Lansingburgh travels to Voorheesville (9-1 Colonial) Friday night, with the winner likely to take home the Colonial Council regular season title. Hammett and Voorheesville's Ethan Mackey will square off in what could be one of the best big-men showdowns this season.

For more on this game, please check out Wednesday's edition of The Record.

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In other basketball news Tuesday night, two Colonial Council girls broke the 1,000-point mark. Lansingburgh's Ariana Youngs topped that in a victory over Watervliet, while Amanda Cioffi, a senior at the Albany Academy for Girls, also eclipsed the 1,000-point barrier at Ravena.

The Shaker girls topped Mohonasen, setting up an interesting game Friday at Averill Park. It's a long shot for the Blue Bison, especially after Colonie tried and lost by 40 points last week, but don't be surprised if Shaker gives the Lady Warriors a hard time.

In boys action, Kevin White scored 25 points and hit the game-winning three-pointer as Hoosic Valley upset No. 7 ranked Hoosick Falls, 48-47 in a Wasaren League thriller.

It looked like the Panthers were going to run away with the league title after they defeated Granville last Friday, but this game makes things much more interesting.

In Big 10 Conference action, Christian Brothers Academy topped Bishop Maginn. Our Ryan Kircher was there and you can read his story on the game in Wednesday's edition of The Record.

The La Salle Cadets beat Amsterdam, evening their record at .500. They travel to CBA on Friday in a big rivalry game.

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Remember to drop by Thursday night around 6 p.m. for another live chat all about the big games on Friday and the results of Tuesday's action. There are also some significant hockey games and wrestling tournaments this weekend and I'd like to hear your thoughts on those, too.

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Two girls nearing 1,000-point mark; hockey on TV

Two Colonial Council girls basketball players are nearing the 1,000-point milestone and could reach four figures for their careers tonight.

Lansingburgh High School's Ariana Youngs is 11 points away and can set the mark tonight against Watervliet.

Amanda Cioffi, a senior at the Albany Academy for Girls, also has a chance to go over 1,000 points tonight.

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In hockey news, Saturday's CDHSHL game between Christian Brothers Academy and Shenendehowa will be played at Houston Field House and televised on TW3, starting at 7 p.m.
RPI plays a game at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Gleason and Durocher aren't afraid to call the shots

Watervliet High School senior shooting guard Nick Durocher (left) and junior point guard Devonte Gleason (right) pose for a picture during Monday's practice at the school. Head coach Walter Bowden said he couldn't recall "a two-headed backcourt that has been this impressive for a long stretch." (Photos by Mike McMahon - The Record).

It wasn't too long ago when Nick Durocher and Devonte Gleason were big rivals on the court. Coming up through the system in Watervliet together, they often competed to take the big shot and prove that they were better than the other.

Durocher, however, had a change of heart after the Cannoneers' first summer league game at the Watervliet Dome in 2009. Head coach Walter Bowden saw his typical frustrations come out after a rough game and set him aside. Bowden told him he had the talent to be an All-Colonial Council guard, but only if he decided to accept his strengths and weaknesses and learn to play alongside Gleason in the same backcourt.

Voila!

The duo has averaged a combined 25.3 points per game, adding nine rebounds, nine assists and seven steals between them. Watervliet (7-1, 10-2) will host Lansingburgh, with an identical record of (7-1, 10-2) Tuesday night in a crucial Colonial Council game. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

For more on that story, be sure to check out Tuesday's edition of The Record.

Durocher shows his shooting form during Monday's practice.

Durocher has a great three-point shooting touch, as does Gleason and their teammate C.J. Ashline. He's not afraid to let it rip from long distance and that strength could play a big role in Tuesday's game.

While he admitted being a leader didn't come naturally to him, Bowden's words in the summer inspired him. Durocher also runs cross country in the fall, which has improved his stamina and durability.

"It's a whole different sport and as an individual, you have to push yourself," he said. "You can’t really be a leader on a cross country team, but in basketball, you have to get everyone going in practice and like coach said, it’s all about composure. It's just keeping your composure during the game."

Along with Gleason and senior forward Kevin Pontore, Durocher was voted a team tri-captain by his teammates. Still, it's Durocher's turnaround that has sparked the Cannoneers on their quest to capture a Colonial Council regular season title.

"The three of them have developed into leaders," Bowden said. "That was the one question we had coming into the year. Where is the leadership going to come from? Out of all of them, Nick has stepped up the most from where he was to where he is now. I can’t say enough about him and the senior year he’s having. I’m proud of him."

Devonte Gleason glides up for a layup during a drill in Monday's practice at Watervliet High School.

Gleason is an ultra-competitive player, but that extends off the court and into the locker room. It's a great problem to have as a basketball coach, as Bowden explains:

"This is the deepest team I’ve ever had and they’re also the most competitive with each other, which is an excellent thing for practice," said Bowden, "if we don’t let it get too crazy. They all want to win every time they step on the floor and they all go at each other very hard and that leads to some great practices and competition. My job is to make sure that stays right there and we’re all teammates when we leave practice."

The Cannoneers have lost just twice this season, both times by two points to state-ranked opponents. A second quarter meltdown at Lansingburgh explained the first loss ('Vliet allowed 22 unanswered points in the second quarter before playing great - just too little, too late - in the second half). But it's also the leadership from players like Pontore, Gleason and Durocher that has helped the freshmen and sophomores on the team adjust to life on the varsity level in a short matter of time.

"Being a leader is leading by example," said Gleason. "You have to run hard through sprints and stuff. Everybody on the team is looking, so you can’t cut corners."

"Devonte just wants to take over," said Bowden. "He wants to be the guy. He wants to be the best player on the floor and he wants to take the big shots. We've had a lot of talented guys here over the years that didn’t want that. We have guys this year that want to step up. We’re lucky."

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Section II fantasy basketball...not what you think

In Monday night's live chat, a reader suggested we compile 'fantasy' teams for Section II. We won't be keeping track of points and statistics, but the idea is, if you could start your dream high school basketball team from scratch, who would be the principles? Why?

The explanation here is the key. We're not looking to put anyone down, just try to explain why a particular player or coach is the best at what they do.

I'll accept your teams via email (troyrecordsports AT gmail DOT com), through the comment box on the right hand side of the page, or in the comment section below.

I'll take both boys and girls teams, but you're certainly free just to submit one team. If I get enough submissions, we'll tally up the votes and declare the reader's fantasy team.

Here are the rules:
You must pick from the current pool of coaches, players, uniforms and gyms. We could go on forever about the good old days, but let's keep this to the people currently competing on the hardcourt.

1) Who would you want to coach your team? Why?

2) Which player would you pick to build the team around? Why?

3) What uniforms would you use and in what gym would your imaginary team play? (You can cross over here, for example, using the CCHS uniforms and the Troy High gym)

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Here is my dream team.

1) Dan Calhoun - Hoosic Valley
Perhaps I've watched Hoosiers too many times, but the things I most like about basketball are a tough man-to-man defense and an offense that uses up the shot clock making pass after pass looking for an open shot. It's a simple game and a fool-proof strategy and it's something Calhoun sticks with no matter what type of personnel he inherits or what the situation of the game dictates.
Plus, he's as animated on the sidelines as anyone, but is never mean-spirited toward officials. He's just another player on the bench, willing shots to go in and inspiring the players about to enter the game.
To me, and obviously, I've never coached, I think coaching comes down to two things. One, you have to keep things fairly simple. The players understand exactly what they have to do and there aren't any miscommunication issues on the court in crunch time.
Two, you have to be fun or make the most mundane things (practice) fun for the players. It seems like his passion is contagious with the players, at least from my seat in the bleachers.

2) Javion Ogunyemmi - Troy High
If we're going to really stretch this idea and go with players that still have a way to go to reach their ceilings, I'll pick Troy's freshman center.
A 6-foot-9, Ogunyemmi is already a force in the paint and he still likely has a few inches yet to grow. He started the year on the junior varsity and made his way up to the varsity, earning an MVP trophy in the Girmindl/Sand Tournament in his first few weeks with the team.
Right now, he's been the first forward off the bench for Troy as head coach Jeff Sitterly tries to slowly allow him to adjust to Big 10 competition.
Obviously, his height is a big factor in all of this, but from the few times I've seen him play, he also has a flair for the dramatic, making key rebounds and free throws (including a pair of three-point plays) in the championship game of the Girmindl/Sand Tournament at Shaker. He isn't afraid of the spotlight and he has plenty of upside and when you factor in his size advantage, I'd take my chances building around him.

3) Uniforms - Shaker High; Gym - Heatly School
I'll take the Shaker High uniforms. I like the little rings around the neck and the arms with the tick-marks. They're distinctive but not too busy.

I like the Heatly gym for a few reasons. It's big enough that teams can get on it and run - unlike a lot of the little cages elsewhere around the CHVL - but the stands are close enough to the court that you can get a little homecourt advantage late in a close game.
Plus, you also walk right into the gym from the front door of the school and there are big windows over the east end, offering a neat view of downtown Troy.

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So who are you picking? Leave me your first name and hometown and we'll post the results here in the coming weeks.

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I've added a bit of social networking sites to augment what you can read here on the blog, so be sure to check out these other sites.

If you're on Twitter, follow Off The Record by clicking here: www.twitter.com/TroyRecordSport
Every time there is a new post on the blog, Twitter sends out a tweet with a brief description and a link to the post.

I've also started a Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/TroyRecordSports, and I'm experimenting with what can go on over there that we can't do on the blog. A discussion has been started, asking your opinion on which teams will win Section II titles in 2010. Have at it.

I'm also planning on running live chats here on Monday and Thursday nights through the postseason, so feel free to drop by any time from about 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. to sound off on your thoughts about the big upcoming games.

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High school basketball chat - live!

Join the live chat by clicking on the play button in the window below!

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Roth elevates her game for Wildcats; MH boys rebound against Taconic Hills

Katie Roth takes a break during a break in Saturday's Patroon Conference game against Taconic Hills at the College of Saint Rose. Nursing a small cut on her chin, she's modeling a band-aid. Roth, a junior center, is averaging a double-double (17 points and 12 rebounds) so far this season for the No. 1 ranked Class C team in the Empire State. (Photos by Tom Killips - The Record).

Like many children in the Castleton area, Katie Roth got her start on the hardwood in the Sacred Heart CYO program, which has turned out to be a wonderful feeder program for both the boys and girls teams at the high school level. It was a little bit of peer pressure and a hint from mom that pushed Roth off the soccer pitch and onto the basketball court.

“I started playing in fourth grade,” Roth said. “All my friends got me into it and my mom kind of got me into it, too. She said, ‘You’re tall, you’ll be great!”

Now a 6-foot-2 center, Roth is a one-girl wrecking crew in the Patroon Conference, unstoppable on the boards and a big target for passes from teammates perched around the perimeter. She scored 22 points in a 53-33 victory over Taconic Hills Saturday in the Patroon's second annual Coaches vs. Cancer event at Saint Rose.

A well-rounded athlete, Roth also plays volleyball and competes in track and field for the Wildcats, but spends the majority of her basketball offseason competing with an AAU team. On that team, she mixes in a little bit of guard play, which has dramatically improved her ball-handling skills and also expanded her knowledge of the game.

“It helps me realize what the other people on the team are doing, especially here at school, where I don’t get a chance to play guard at all,” Roth said. “So I know what Jess (Dailey) and Erin (Mosher) have to go through. It’s fun, it’s new, it’s different to do something like that. Definitely playing over the summer with AAU and playing guard a little bit has helped my dribbling skills, my shooting skills and getting out on people a little bit, playing ball defense. It’s been really helpful.”

Roth has scored 691 points in her two-and-a-half year varsity career, with the school record sitting about 300 points away. She could potentially reach that milestone next year, but Roth and the Wildcats are looking to move on to the regional round of the Class C postseason after losing in the Class CC/C playoff game two seasons in a row.

"Coach (Mark) Bubniak is always saying, 'You know, girls, you have to work hard in practice to get better. You have to come on the court to be ready and we have to work harder in practice so that when it comes times for sectionals, we can get to where we want to get," Roth said.
"So, pretty much everyone has the mentality that practice is where we’re going to get better and you have to push the other people you’re playing against. You don’t be nice and be everyone’s friend, but you have to make each other better."

Read more about Maple Hill's junior center in Sunday's edition of The Record.

Katie Roth leaps for a shot attempt over the reach of Taconic Hills' Emma Gryner (22) during Saturday's game at the College of Saint Rose.

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The Maple Hill boys followed with a 70-36 victory over Taconic Hills. One notable fact from the afternoon: every single varsity player in the Maple Hill program scored at least two points Saturday. All nine of the girls registered on the scoreboard and a late bucket from Gabe Stockman meant all 11 of the Maple Hill boys scored, too.

It was a nice rebound victory for the Wildcats, who had lost to Ichabod Crane Thursday night in a battle of the two remaining Patroon Conference unbeatens. Head coach Scott Hanrahan also made a little homecoming - he played at Saint Rose in the late 1980s and won a NAIA district championship with the Golden Knights during the 1988-89 season. His number might not hang from the rafters, but he did make a point to show his team the picture of the '88-89 Saint Rose team in the college's Athletic Hall of Fame.

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Just like it did for Katie Roth, AAU has also impacted the boys team. Seniors Chris Despart and David Briggs played 50-plus games this summer and traveled to the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

They may have been dunked on a handful of times by Division I prospects, but the experience gave the Maple Hill duo a great deal of experience...and plenty of stories to tell their teammates.

Maple Hill senior Chris Despart drives to the hoop in a Dec. 2009 game against Cairo-Durham. (Photo by Mike McMahon - The Record).

Senior center Sean Danaher takes care of business in the paint and point guard Dominic Prinzo controls the Wildcats offense, but Briggs and Despart are unselfish players who help their teammates in any way they need to, depending on the situation. Both can score and both can be lockdown defenders. It's the little things they do every game that really determine whether the Wildcats are going to play their best or whether they'll struggle.

"I depend on them to do a lot, and I depend on the rest of seniors, too," said Hanrahan. "These guys have been playing basketball together for a long time. They got to play down in Disney this summer against some of the best players in the country. They played against Division I recruits, It’s good for them because they immersed themselves in the sport. I think you can see in the way that they play every day. I’m fortunate to be able to coach them and see what they bring to us every day."

Maple Hill senior David Briggs eludes the defense during a Dec. 2009 game against Cairo-Durham. (Photo by Mike McMahon - The Record).

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Averill Park rides the bench Friday night, buries Colonie

Averill Park senior guard Lauren Nunziato elevates for a three-point shot during Friday's Suburban Council South Division game against Colonie. Nunziato scored 13 points during Averill Park's 23-0 first half run (they added another 23-0 run later on) as the Lady Warriors posted a 78-38 victory over the No. 9 ranked Class AA team in the Empire State. (Photos by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Nunziato finished with a game-high 16 points and the Averill Park bench outscored their counterparts from Colonie, 41-19.

"We played really well as a team and stuck together," Nunziato said. "We played really good team defense and we feed off each other's energy. That keeps on the whole game."

Nunziato can sink those shots from behind the three-point stripe, but the Warriors have had to coerce her to take those shots, as she plays Averill Park's unselfish system to a fault.

"She kind of characterizes our team, that we’re so unselfish," said Sean Organ, Averill Park’s head coach. "And she doesn’t realize that her role is to step up and hit those open shots. With Katie (Duma), Michaela (Ottati) and now Lauren out there, they’re tough to defend when we’re on."
Averill Park's Katie Duma tries to get a shot off over the outstretched arms of Colonie's Tehresa Coles (25). In a duel between two of the best players in the league, Duma scored 11 points on a trio of three-point baskets and Coles ran into early foul trouble and was limited to four points.

Coles collected two fouls in the first five minutes of the game and quickly was stuck to the bench, just at the same time that Lauren Nunziato emerged as the Warriors' hot shooter. Coles, a junior guard, may be a star at a major college someday, but Averill Park took her out of a big-time Suburban Council contest Friday night.

"(Coles) is the heart and soul of that team," Organ said. "She is a tremendous player and she may very well be the best player in the Suburban Council. She’s a Division I prospect."

Averill Park's Amanda Fitzgerald fights for a loose ball against Colonie's Jaclyn Welch (33). Fitzgerald scored nine points and made four assists filling in for Brittany O'Shea at the point guard position.

Heading into Friday’s game, Averill Park was beating opponents by an average final score of 60.2-35.1. The victory over Colonie was the fourth time they had eclipsed the 70-point mark.

"We’re deep," said Organ. "We use our depth to our advantage. Our game plan is simple. We want to bring as many players at you that we can to wear you out."

Friday was Organ's 32nd birthday. His players presented him a cake after the game.

Averill Park sophomore forward Brooke O'Shea prepares to leap for a lay-up in front of Colonie's Ashley Loggins (5) during Friday's game. O'Shea finished with 11 points and four steals.

The Averill Park student section broke out their "O'Shea, O'Shea, O'Shea, O'Shea" chant (you know that soccer Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole chant?) after a long pass from Brooke to her older sister Brittany at one point in the game. And really, the Averill Park fans were an intimidating sixth man during the game.

Averill Park lowered both sets of bleachers for only the second time this season (the other was against Rensselaer County rival Columbia High) and they sure needed all the seating they could get for what turned out to be a full house.

The cheerleaders were there, the band was there and unfortunately, a few guys decided to paint themselves yellow and blue...but everyone understood their sentiments.

Other than the Schenectady boys at CBA, this was the best crowd I've seen all year for basketball, boys or girls. As long as the Averill Park fans can keep it up, they can really rattle road teams.

"I think our student body is beginning to realize that we could have a special season in the making and they’re starting to jump on the bandwagon," Organ said. "They did a great job for us tonight."

For more on Averill Park, check out Saturday's edition of The Record.

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Our Ryan Kircher was at Albany High to watch La Salle squeak out a one-point victory, their second buzzer-beater in a row, with a 50-49 triumph over the Falcons.

Josh Terry buried a three-pointer with 0.4 seconds to play, playing the hero for the Cadets, who at 4-5, are just one game below .500 in the Big 10 Conference standings.

"It was a good pass from my teammate," Terry said. "He was looking for me in the corner and I told him I'd be there. It was a good play everyone just swung it around and it just fell into place."

For more on the La Salle-Albany game, check out Saturday's edition of The Record.

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