Top Ten December 22, 2018

Here are the top 10 topics for the December 22 edition of the Inside High School Sports show.

1. Perhaps we have found a top tier of Class AA boys basketball teams. West Genesee, who entered the week 4-0, and Corcoran, who started the week 5-0, both are in the state rankings – the Wildcats at no. 20, the Cougars at no. 23. Baldwinsville is 4-1, but 2-0 in league play and could add more to that total this week against Nottingham and C-NS. In Class A, J-D remains the front-runners, the Red Rams up to 6-0 after wins last week over Oswego and Fulton put them at no. 17 in the state Class A rankings. Two of the teams that could give J-D the most trouble, Central Square (4-0 going into the week) and ESM (5-1 entering the week), face each other Thursday night in their last games before the holiday break.

2. By surviving a challenge from state Class C no. 17-ranked Weedsport last Friday, Skaneateles kept itself undefeated in boys basketball at 5-0 and moved up to no. 17 in the state Class B poll, with Lowville also 5-0 the only other undefeated Class B side after Jordan-Elbridge took its first loss at CBA. Cooperstown continues to roll in Class C, staying at no. 3 in the state rankings, best of any Section III school in any class, the Hawkeyes having gone to 7-0 after a rout of Sauquoit Valley on Monday night as Utica Academy of Science, who only started varsity play a couple of seasons ago, is no. 15 in the state rankings and 7-1. DeRuyter, Lyme and McGraw are all state-ranked among local Class D sides.

3. In girls basketball, it still goes through West Genesee in Class AA, though the Wildcats had to go to overtime last Tuesday to win a thriller over C-NS, its closest challenger, and then lost to Ursuline at a Poughkeepsie tournament the following weekend. C-NS has handled everyone else, though, and plays at a tournament in Orlando, Florida, the weekend before Christmas. In Class A, as J-D does its usual work handling league foes, Bishop Ludden, up from Class B, made a big statement by beating Westhill last Saturday 54-48 a mere five days after losing by double digits to those same Warriors. It showed that the Gaelic Knights have moved on from Danielle Rauch and could end up as J-D’s main Class A challenger. 

4. Heading toward the holidays in girls basketball, we had two fine players pass 1,000 career points last week as Abby Wilkinson did so at Bishop Grimes and Lauren Denny got to that mark for Pulaski, one of many top Class C challengers in a crowd where star power is the story, whether it’s Allison Moreau at 4-1 Sauquoit Valley averaging nearly 30 points a game or Hannah Stack putting up 25 points a game for 6-1 Dolgeville. But they all chase 8-0 Weedsport, who has a crucial game with Pulaski Tuesday night. Then, among the Class D sides, no one has matched the start of Copenhagen, the Gold Knights going to 6-0 by knocking off previously unbeaten Thousand Islands 62-44 on Monday. 

5. No one had a better week in ice hockey than the Syracuse Cougars, who last Wednesday went to Lysander Arena and knocked off Baldwinsville 5-1 in a rematch of last winter’s sectional Division I final, and then returned to Meachem Rink two nights later to knock off state Division II no. 1-ranked Skaneateles 1-0 on Ryan Durand’s goal late in the third period. Syracuse is 7-0, and might find West Genesee the biggeset worry in Division I again as the Wildcats won four in a row following an 0-3 start. C-NS won its own Optimist Tournament, beating CBA/J-D in the finals. In Division II, Cortland-Homer was no. 2 in the state rankings but got tied by Whitesboro 5-5 last week, showing how close the competition is.

6. They have the first wrestling state rankings of the season out, with Fulton no. 10 among large schools going into this Friday’s match against no. 3 Hilton, and Central Valley Academy no. 2 among small schools after winning last weekend at Burnt Hills’ Lee Van Slyke Duals, and Carthage at no. 9. Indian River made its bid for the state rankings by winning its own North Country Invitational last weekend, while West Genesee prevailed at the Phoenix Round Robin and Marcellus went 5-0 to go to the top at Central Square’s Brett Dixon Memorial Duals. After a heavy schedule of league meets, most teams rest before the holiday break, which includes Oswego’s massive Kenneth Haines Memorial and Dolgeville’s Mountain Duals.

7. They are well into indoor track and field now. Last weekend’s activities began with the Mohawk Valley Individual Relays at Utica College, where Clinton swept the team titles, holding off Utica Proctor on the boys side and Baldwinsville on the girls side. Then came the Oscar B. Jensen Holiday Relays at SRC Arena, where Liverpool won both morning sessions and C-NS, with multiple state champion Jeremiah Willis winning three events, getting a sweep of the afternoon sessions. Individually, it was F-M runners tearing it up as Phoebe White set the nation’s fastest time of 2:58.26 in the 1,000-meter run and Claire Walters doing the same in the 3,000-meter run, winning that race in a swift 9:47.48. 

8. A big story last week in girls volleyball was seeing Tully, who swept each of its first five matches, lose in five sets to Onondaga, and then fall in four sets to CBA a week later. In order to stay undefeated at 7-0, Mount Markham had to rally from down 2-1 to beat Sauquoit Valley in five sets, while Carthage continues to rampage through the Frontier League and Beaver River’s long-time coach, Gene Sundberg, passed 600 career wins when the Beavers swept General Brown last week. Chittenango, also undefeated, had its star hitter, Tyla Cutrie, sign a national letter of intent to attend UNC-Charlotte next year – to play beach volleyball, a sport that just had its first NCAA championship last spring, won by UCLA.

9. Also amid a busy stretch of winter sports, the Skaneateles girls ice hockey team’s undefeated run ended last weekend with a 2-1 defeat to Malone that followed a close 3-2 win over Massena, but the Lakers remain the overwhelming Section III favorites. In girls bowling, Liverpool saw its 20-match win streak ended by Baldwinsville, who also prevailed at ESM late last week to take charge in the SCAC Metro race, while Fulton continues to set the pace in both SCAC Empire divisions. Then there’s boys swimming, with Liverpool still tough to stop as it moved to 6-0 this week, Fulton improving to 5-0 and Watertown dominating the Frontier League with that same mark. Rome Free Academy is 4-0, atop the Center State Conference.

10. In big basketball news, the New York State Federation of Secondary School Athletic Association is moving its late-March championship tournament to Fordham University in the Bronx, and historic Rose Hill Gym, starting in 2020. Most of its existence, the Federation tournament took part in Glens Falls, with a few years’ detour to Albany, but in either place the crowds were small, energy level low and everything seemed anticlimactic after the drama of the NYSPHSAA state final four a weekend earlier. Now it goes to New York City, from where most of the teams in the tournament originate, which should mean bigger crowds – and a NYC experience as a reward for public state champions, too. 

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