Jack Andrejko, Josh Foley, Brandon Nguyen, Ian Denny, Julien Brownlow, Curtis Merrick, Griffin Merkling
R.J. Romeo, Luke Valenti, Chris Catalano, Colin Kelly, Will Mackenzie, Jason Boule
Here is a top 10 for the Web site for the Inside High School Sports show for the week of June 19…
1. Of all the Section III championship games, none carried the history or drama contained in the Class A game between Cicero-North Syracuse and Baldwinsville. The Bees led 6-2 early, the Northstars fought back and tied it by halftime, and from there neither side would lead by more than one goal. C-NS was up 10-9 when B’ville’s Carlie Desimone tied it in the final minute of regulation, only to have chances to win it twice get denied – once by a post, then again by an overtime save from Northstars goalie Nicole O’Neil. Only when freshman Mackenzie Prentice scored in the second OT did it end with C-NS winning 12-11 and securing its first sectional title since 1997 – when coach Stephanie Prentice was a player. All this after the Northstars went 1-15 the last time it played in 2019.
2. In the other girls lacrosse sectional finals, two Route 20 neighbors finished perfect seasons. Auburn completed its dominant 15-0 run through Class B by pulling away to top Fayetteville-Manlius 19-8 and earn its first-ever sectional championship. And in Class D, Skaneateles gave up the first two goals to Westhill, but then outscored the Warriors 10-1 the rest of the half, ultimately prevailed 14-6 and also finished its season 15-0. The one surprise was in Class C, where despite two regular-season losses to Fulton, Jamesville-DeWitt went on the road and knocked off the Red Raiders 10-7 to claim a fourth consecutive sectional title, motivated in no small part by the fact that coach Stephanie Rice was stepping down to take an assistant principal’s post at F-M.
3. The boys lacrosse sectional finals produced just one new champion – Westhill, in Class D, who scored 14 goals in the first half and dethroned reigning champion LaFayette 20-13 as Will Delano got nine goals and two assists. Otherwise, all the reigning champions stayed that way, whether it was Class A’s Baldwinsville using a mid-game surge to pull away from West Genesee and win 14-7 for its fourth win over the Wildcats this season, or Class B’s Fayetteville-Manlius completing its run as perhaps the area’s dominant team by jumping all over East Syracuse Minoa on the way to a 21-6 victory, or Jamesville-DeWitt getting a combined 12 goals from Johnny Keib and Ethan Kesserling, leading start to finish and taking out CBA 15-8 to yet again capture the Class C sectional title.
4. There were also great stories from the Section III softball championship games, none better than Auburn knocking off Jamesville-DeWitt 7-6 to end the Red Rams’ four-year reign as Class A champions – and doing so just a day after head coach Kelley Horbal had to go into the hospital to give birth to her second daughter, Allie, who was born just after the title game so Kelley could watch it. As if that wasn’t enough, there was Bishop Ludden rising from a no. 8 seed to earn the sectional Class D championship, knocking off all the top seeds and ultimately claiming the final 11-8 over Poland mere hours after five of the seniors on the team had their graduation ceremony – they literally rode the bus to the game still with their cap and gowns, and then created another lifetime memory.
5. Though pushed hard, Cicero-North Syracuse’s softball team used four runs in the sixth inning to rally past archrival Liverpool 7-4 and finish a perfect 17-0 season while earning the Section III Class A championship. A few hours later, Marcellus made history with its first-ever sectional Class B title, knocking off the reigning champions from Oneida 10-2, the Mustangs scoring three runs in the third inning and six runs in the sixth inning to pull away. Finally, there was Pulaski not just winning the sectional Class C title, but doing so by hammering top seed Cooperstown 18-0, much of the damage done by the sister combination of Danielle and Emily Birmingham who each finished with five RBIs as Emily also pitched a complete-game shutout, holding the Hawkeyes to four hits.
6. The list of Section III baseball champions was headed by Baldwinsville, which returned to the Class AA summit it last held in 2018 by denying West Genesee its first sectional title in 44 years. Down 7-1 early, the Bees stormed back, using a six-run fourth inning and four-run sixth inning to storm out in front and eventually prevail 13-7. It was far different in the Class A sectional final at Falcon Park, but CBA, after dramatic late-game wins over New Hartford and top seed Cortland, this time netted a pair of first-inning runs against Auburn and rode that all the way to a 2-0 victory over the Maroons, with Matt Boule pitching 5 2/3 innings and Mike Schaefer, a key figure in all the playoff games, finishing it off in relief to earn the Brothers’ first sectional title since 2016.
7. Repeating from 2019, the Skaneateles baseball team earned the sectional Class B-2 championship 3-1 over Holland Patent, with James Musso pitching a complete game and Mike Blowers hitting a decisive sixth-inning home run that broke a 1-1 tie. Camden prevailed in Class B-1, outscoring Homer 11-9 as it netted nine runs in the first two innings. In Class C-1, Cooperstown, the 2019 sectional champions, won a 4-3, eight-inning thriller over Port Byron, winning it on Alex Hage’s run-scoring single, while in Class C-2 Beaver River ended the dreams of an undefeated season for West Canada by prevailing 8-2. Finally, the Class D sectional final belonged to Poland, who scored all of its runs in the first four innings and put away DeRuyter 11-3.
8. In the string of Section III track and field championships that took place last week, the Cicero-North Syracuse boys and Fayetteville-Manlius girls took top honors in Class AA, while in Class A Central Square’s girls edged East Syracuse Minoa by half a point for the top spot and ESM was second in the boys event, too, behind Jamesville-DeWitt. Class B-1 was a clean sweep for Westhill’s boys and girls, while in Class B-2 Jordan-Elbridge’s girls won its first-ever sectional title avenging a regular-season loss to Cazenovia, who still dominated the boys B-1 meet. In Class C, there were two sweeps, Tully winning both sides of C-1 and Beaver River prevailing in both parts of C-2, while in Class D both Remsen teams easily claimed the top spots to earn sectional titles.
9. The series of Section III boys tennis tournaments at Utica Parkway Courts featured yet another victory in Class A for Fayetteville-Manlius, who won two singles and one doubles division as CBA’s Ben Vlassis prevailed in first singles. Moving to the Class B tournament, Jamesville-DeWitt, led by Essex Glowaki and Mark Brastlavsky in first and second singles, won the team portion to go with their undefeated regular season as Oneida finished second. A terrific Class C-1 tournament featured two Lakers sides going at it, but Skaneateles prevailing because it won both doubles and one singles to the two singles titles claimed by Cazenovia. It was rounded out by Cooperstown going to the top of the standings in the Class C-2 sectional tournament.
10. And to close out this season, a teaser for next fall – Robert Zayas, executive director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, confirmed early this week that state championship tournaments will return in the fall, the last piece of returning things to where they were prior to March 2020. All told, four-plus seasons worth of state tournaments were wiped out by the pandemic, with ice hockey, boys and girls basketball and all the spring sports losing their chances to earn state titles in both 2020 and 2021. From all indications, sectional tournaments across the state went off well, and those who attended them sensed that, finally, high school sports was really back, something that will only be confirmed when fall sports take place – in the fall!
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