Here are the top 10 topics for the March 7 edition of the Inside High School Sports show…
- This Saturday will give us all of the Section III basketball championship games at OCC. This includes a Class AA boys final that pits Corcoran against Baldwinsville, two sides aiming to break long championship droughts after splitting their regular-season meetings. Plus it’s two superstars, the Cougars’ De’Jour Reaves and the Bees’ J.J. Starling squaring off after both netted 30-plus points in their respective semifinals, Corcoran toppling Bishop Ludden and B’ville avenging an earlier defeat to a Rome Free Academy side that, in the quarterfinals, had knocked off top seed and defending state champion West Genesee. B’ville has never won a sectional title and Corcoran, for all of its strong hoops history, last claimed the sectional banner in 2000.
- The Class A boys basketball sectional final pits J-D against CBA, the defending champion Red Rams having won 14 in a row and ousted ESM in the semifinals and the Brothers taking out Bishop Grimes to get its 12th in a row and a rematch with a side it lost to on that same SRC Arena floor early in December. Still on its perch atop the state Class B rankings, Lowville looks to defend its sectional title against a challenge from Solvay, looking to break a 25-year title drought. The Bearcats’ chances were boosted when Justin Scott returned from a foot injury and led his team’s semifinal win over General Brown as the Red Raiders overwhelmed Marcellus, Aidan Macaulay passing the 1,000-point mark in his junior year.
- Trying to defend both its sectional and state titles in boys Class C basketball, Cooperstown worked past West Canada in the semifinals to set up Saturday’s title game against top seed Weedsport, who after four straight semifinal defeats finally made it past this round when it took out Onondaga. There was drama in Class D as Lyme and Old Forge had to wait out a snowstorm and not play its semifinal until Monday night, when a 3-pointer at the buzzer got Lyme to overtime and it eventually defeated Old Forge, bringing the defending champions to a sectional final showdown with 23-0, state no. 2-ranked DeRuyter, who had far less stress ending no. 13 seed Brookfield’s surprising run in the other semifinal.
- Much of the drama in the Section III girls basketball semifinals centered around Class B, where no. 13 seed Bishop Grimes’ shocking run continued with an upset of top seed Oneida, the Cobras showing great poise down the stretch as it has knocked off three of the top five seeds overall – and now will get a sectional final against no. 2 seed South Jefferson, who had to withstand a massive fourth-quarter comeback from Marcellus in the other semifinal as Jackie Piddock scored nine points in the final minute, including six-for-six free throws, after the Mustangs tied it. The Spartans had already ousted Westhill in the quarterfinals, easily claiming a rematch of the 2019 title game and moving closer to a sectional repeat.
- As expected, the girls basketball sectional Class AA final will pit top seed and 20-1 Baldwinsville against the only team that beat them this season, C-NS, who handled West Genesee in the semifinals as the Bees got past Rome Free Academy. Before that, the Class A final has intrigue as J-D, winner of the last eight sectional titles, is probably an underdog against top seed CBA. While the Brothers have breezed to playoff wins against Indian River and Whitesboro, the Red Rams had to go to the last seconds to survive Bishop Ludden in the quarterfinals and trailed New Hartford in the semifinals before pulling it out, helped in no small part by Kaia Henderson fouling out as the Spartans did not score again after her departure.
- Just as the Class A basketball title games both have J-D and CBA, the Class C sectional finals both have Weedsport trying to unseat Cooperstown. On the girls side, the Warriors put a 21-game win streak on the line after handling West Canada in one semifinal as the Hawkeyes again showed its playoff poise taking out no. 2 seed Onondaga. Then there’s Class D, where undefeated Brookfield, led by seventh-grader Lily Vleer-Elliott, survived a serious scare from Lyme to move to 22-0 and advance to Saturday’s title game, but now will try and topple defending champion Copenhagen, a major task since the Gold Knights absolutely pummeled a very good Hamilton team in the semifinals to get this far.
- When the state wrestling championships were done last Saturday at Albany’s Times Union Center, two Section III wrestlers had brought home state titles. At 160 pounds in Division II, Dolgeville’s Jacob Null finished a perfect 51-0 season by beating Eden’s Giovanni Schifano 7-3 in the finals, while at 195 pounds South Jefferson’s Tyler Mousaw also was perfect this winter, his 40-0 campaign capped by a 36-second pin over Bolivar-Richburg’s Hudson Evingham – he won all four of his state meet bouts in less than seven minutes. Four others – Avery Leonard (Cooperstown), Micah Roes (Lowville), Dean Shambo (Mexico) and Mike Leibl (Canastota) – all earned second-place finishes on the Division II side.
- Both of the Section III ice hockey championship games featured repeat champions. Unlike 2019, Syracuse did not need four overtimes to win in Division I over West Genesee, the Cougars this time blanking the Wildcats 3-0 as Kaleb Benedict had two of those goals. In Division II, unbeaten Skaneateles used a trio of first-period goals to take control against Whitesboro and eventually win 5-1, but both of those teams go to the state tournament and regional finals, the Lakers against Starpoint, the Warriors against Rye. Meanwhlie, Syracuse takes on Section V’s Victor Saturday in Rochester, looking to return to Buffalo’s HarborCenter next weekend to defend its state championship.
- Section III’s gymnasts brought home plenty of medals and hardware from last Saturday’s state championship meet at Cold Spring Harbor High School on Long Island. New Hartford’s Miranda Smith was the particular standout, winning the state all-around championship with 38.675 that included wins on the uneven bars with 9.775 and the balance beam and floor exercise with 9.60 each. Whitesboro’s Taylor Bushey was second on uneven bars, while Bushey’s teammate, Madison Scialdone got third place on the beam and Smith’s teammate, Kennedy Massoud, was fifth on the floor, and all of these scores were enough to give Section III the team championship by a narrow 0.625-point margin over Section VI.
- This is state championship weekend in boys swimming as, on Long Island, Baldwinsville’s Nick Schultz is a medal contender in the 100 breaststroke and Watertown’s Nate Carlos is the same in the sprints as Liverpool has all three relay teams on hand. There’s also the state indoor track and field championships on Staten Island, featuring F-M’s distance runners and Liverpool’s duo of Imani and Amina Sinclair, but no one could top what Tully’s Brooke Rauber did last weekend, the junior superstar winning the gold medal for Team USA at the Pan Am Junior Woman Championships in a time of 23:12 that was 11 seconds ahead of Canada’s Sadie Sigfstead, pulling away on the 6,000-meter course’s final climb.
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