Top 10 for March 30, 2019

Here are the top 10 topics for the March 30 edition of the Inside High School Sports Show
1. It’s fitting that the high school lacrosse season starts for most teams this week after SU’s men and women both earned come-from-behind wins Sunday playing at high school fields – the men doing so against Duke in front of a packed house at C-NS‘s Bragman Stadium, the women rallying past Notre Dame at CBA’s Alibrandi Stadium. Perhaps this would get area high schools to link up with SU, or other college teams, for a season-opening event the last weekend of March each year with a bunch of featured high school games on Friday night and Saturday, and then perhaps college games on Sunday. Clearly moving those games was a big hit for fans and players, so why not?
2. As to boys lacrosse, the big story, of course, is coach Shaun Smith given the awesome task of trying to follow Mike Messere at West Genesee. Smith did a great job building the Corcoran and (eventually) Syracuse city programs, but now he goes to a Wildcats team that, for all the controversy Messere created with comments at the end of the season, still made it to the state Class A finals after yet another sectional championship. The usual suspects, especially F-M, Baldwinsville and Liverpool, will chase West Genesee, who opened this week with a Tuesday game against Saratoga Springs at Herkimer CC and then hosts Penfield Saturday just as B’ville, F-M and Liverpool all face out-of-town foes, too.
3. One development in boys lacrosse involves CBA, who has ruled Class D the last two years and claimed a state title in 2017, moving up to Class C to challenge the likes of Westhill and J-D. It was the Warriors who ended the Red Rams’ decade-long run of sectional titles and Westhill already has a win over Chittenango on its ledger as J-D meets Auburn late this week, the Maroons keen on toppling ESM, who has won the last two Class B sectional titles. The promotion of CBA throws Class D wide open to the likes of Skaneateles (whose long-time coach, Ron Doctor, is in his last season), LaFayette and Cazenovia, with the latter two of these teams meeting Saturday at Cazenovia College.
4. Also, girls lacrosse has started. Here there’s a defending state champion in Class A, and again CBA should be quite strong as it returns half of its starting lineup but must replace great seniors like Claire Jeschke, Grace Hulslander and Olivia Penoyer. Who will step up to challenge the Brothers? West Genesee, like its boys counterparts, has a new head coach in Drew White, while C-NS and Baldwinsville figure to challenge, too. In fact, we get some big games early as West Genesee meets up with its neighbors from Westhill mid-week and then, on Saturday, the Bees and Northstars clash. Liverpool already played a game on March 16 at North Shore, a narrow 11-9 defeat under a new head coach, Erynn Anderson.
5. F-M girls lacrosse was in Class B a year ago and reached the state semifinals before falling to eventual champion Manhasset. The Hornets bring back a ton of talent from 2018, including the Steigerwald sisters. Does Auburn challenge them again? There’s Class C, where J-D has won the last two sectional titles but took some graduation hits, meaning the likes of Carthage and Fulton could both topple the Red Rams. In Class D, South Jefferson comes off nearly reaching the state finals a season ago, having toppled stalwart Skaneateles for sectional supremacy. You can be sure the Lakers and long-time contender Marcellus, plus Westhill, are eager to dethrone the Spartans.
6. For the second year in a row, a Section III team that won the boys basketball NYSPHSAA Class AA title could not follow it up with a Federation title in Glens Falls. In last Friday night’s Federation semifinal at Cool Insuring Arena, West Genesee found itself trailing Queens power Christ the King throughout the game, hanging close with help from Lucas Sutherland’s 24 points. But with Sutherland in foul trouble and his teammates not quite able to pick up the rest of the slack, the Wildcats lost, 59-53, as CTK got 19 points and five 3-pointers from Ryan Myers and 10 blocks from sophomore center Moussa Cisse before he fouled out. CTK went on to lose the Federation final to Long Island Lutheran a night later.
7. Of course, the big story of the Federation basketball tournament was the last two games of Glens Falls‘ record-setting Joseph Girard III, who is headed for SU. Packed crowds watched as Glens Falls followed up its epochal NYSPHSAA final last-second overtime win over Lowville by going to OT again in the Federation semifinals against South Bronx Prep, and again winning, 77-70, JG3 getting 42 points as cousin Trent Girard’s 3-pointer in OT was the key blow. Sunday’s final of course had another sellout crowd and Glens Falls beat Buffalo’s Cardinal O’Hara 88-79, Joe Girard closing out his historic high school career with 43 points to give him 4,673 overall for his career, a state record that might last for a long, long time.
8. Elsewhere in the Federation basketball championships at Glens Falls, Albany Academy earned the boys Class A title by routing Frederick Douglass Academy 75-49, August Mahoney hitting eight 3-pointers and getting 24 points overall. On the girls side, an epic Class AA final saw public-school champion Ossinning, who beat West Genesee in the NYSPHSAA title game, fall 81-76 to Christ the King despite 38 points from UConn recruit Aubrey Griffin. Pittsford Mendon, who ended J-D’s reign as the public-school state Class A champion when it beat the Red Rams in the semifinals, went on to the Federation crown by winning 72-67 over Staten Island Academy in another overtime classic.
9. So now what happens in basketball for the state tournaments? There’s big changes coming in 2020, when the boys basketball NYSPHSAA final four returns to Glens Falls after its three-year run in Binghamton. Things ran smoothly there, but attendance hurt a bit until a massive uptake helped by the presence of Joseph Girard III and big turnouts from participants like Lowville. Still, most people like the return to tradition in Glens Falls. The Federation tournaments in 2020 begin a three-year run at Rose Hill Gym at Fordham University in the Bronx, a move that makes sense since two-thirds of the participants, boys and girls teams alike, are from New York City or Long Island, and they should get great crowds there.
10. The NCAA basketball tournaments had a lot of local flavor to them. There was, of course, SU’s teams on hand with J-D’s Buddy Boeheim turning out as a starter for the men’s Orange, but there was also Westhill grad Jordan Roland starting for Northeastern, the CAA champions who lost in the first round to Kansas, while on the women’s side Bishop Ludden great Danielle Rauch helped Michigan reach the second round before a defeat to top seed Louisville. And in Division II, Le Moyne reached the round of 16 with C-NS’s Mackenzie Roberts setting a school single-season record for points while Cooperstown’s Liz Millea and Le Moyne’s Jenna Zimmerman also started, and they all return next year.

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