Top Ten for February 16, 2019

The top 10 topics for the February 16 edition of the Inside High School Sports show.
1. The closing stages of the boys basketball regular season only proved that trying to predict what will happen in the Section III playoffs is foolish. Corcoran was undefeated before West Genesee beat them on a Jack McLane shot that may or may have not beaten the buzzer, Then Corcoran needed a last-second basket (that did count) to edge Baldwinsville… who had beat West Genesee earlier in the week. In Class B, Skaneateles, once 15-0, lost twice late in the season, including at sub-.500 Marcellus, while the other possible top seeds, Lowville and General Brown, split games with each other last week, and Westhill, seeking a championship three-peat, is red-hot and has as good a  chance as anyone.
2. No sectional boys basketball tournament might be as fun as Class A. There’s the teams consistently good all season, including Whitesboro, J-D and Central Square, who have essentially split their games against each other. There’s Bishop Grimes, who’s won 12 of 13 – and the only team they lost to, Bishop Ludden, they avenged a week later. Then there are fast-closing teams like Auburn and CBA. The Maroons won big at J-D and ESM last week after toiling just under .500, and the Brothers, beaten up early, has closed fast and, when it beat Bishop Ludden last Friday, got its first win over the Gaelic Knights in the “Holy War” since December 2011. So again, it’s impossible to guess what might happen in Class A.
3. Moving to Class C boys basketball, Utica Academy of Science’s big win over Cooperstown last week might make the Atoms the favorite in the sectional playoffs, but the young UAS program has never made a long post-season run, and there’s plenty of depth out there with Weedsport, West Canada, and fast-closing Tully, the defending champs getting a big win over LaFayette last week. Then, in Class D, McGraw, at 16-4, is in a good position to defend its sectional title, but it’s very even between the top seeds, which include LaFargeville, Lyme, DeRuyter, and Hamilton, with even New York Mills trying to fit their way into the picture amid a deep field of contenders.
4. Just to give you an idea of how crazy the Section III girls basketball Class B playoffs could get, there are 20 (!) teams in the field, meaning whoever wins it will have to win four, perhaps five times. Still, with Bishop Ludden moved up to Class A to challenge J-D (and the Gaelic Knights have won 13 in a row), the top contenders remain the usual suspects from seasons past – Westhill and South Jefferson, both of whom have proven quite consistent throughout the winter. There are Oneida and VVS, the Tri-Valley League rivals, and there’s the wild card factor of Syracuse Academy of Science, a Class C state finalist last year who’s played well this year, too. The sheer depth of the field could lead to a lot of surprises, though.
5. While the Class AA girls basketball sectional playoffs result likely comes down to whether C-NS can dethrone West Genesee, in Class C there will be a new champion. Weedsport nearly made it through the regular season undefeated before Onondaga knocked them off last week, only enlivening a picture that already had Little Falls a major contender, plus recent state champion Cooperstown closing strong, plus 2017 sectional champion Thousand Islands and Allison Moreau-led Sauquoit Valley. In Class D, Copenhagen is 19-1 after surviving OT with LaFargeville last week and is the likely favorite, but it’s quite easy to imagine 17-1 Madison challenging them, plus Brookfield and Hamilton part of the picture.
6. In last Saturday’s Section III wrestling championships at SRC Arena, the team competitions didn’t provide many surprises, with Fulton easily taking the Division I (large school) title and Central Valley Academy pulling away in Division II (small schools). What happened in individual weight classes, though, provided some surprises, especially in Division II, where at 145 pounds 2017 state champion Hunter Shaut, from CVA, lost his final to Marcellus’ Cahal Donovan, though Donovan was a third-place finisher in the state at 126 last year and both should go to the state tournament. Then an injury caused Phoenix state champion Ross McFarland to forfeit his 182-pound final to South Jefferson/Sandy Creek’s Anthony Rasmussen.
7. The indoor track and field Section III championship meets took place late last week. At SRC Arena, the Class AA titles were split, with Liverpool holding off C-NS for the boys title, but the Northstars outpointing the Warriors for the girls’ victory. In Class A, the same thing happened, Central Square’s boys finishing on top and J-D, second in that event, prevailing on the girls’ side. At Utica College’s Hutton Dome, the Class B-1 sectional titles went to Camden’s boys and Westhill’s girls, while in Class B-2 Cazenovia earned the victory in the boys meet and Clinton pulled away for the girls’ title. Finally, in Class C/D Oriskany edged West Canada by one point for the boys title and South Lewis easily won the girls title.
8. We have reached the Section III ice hockey playoffs. In Division I, Syracuse and West Genesee hold the top two seeds, with quarterfinals set for Friday between F-M and CBA/J-D, plus Rome Free Academy and Baldwinsville, while in Division II Skaneateles and Cortland-Homer have the top two seeds and byes to the semifinals after the Lakers beat the Golden Eagles 4-2 late last week. Moving to girls hockey, Skaneateles nearly won a third state championship in program history, beating Plattsburgh 3-0 in the state semifinals at Buffalo’s HarborCenter, then making three different comebacks in the state final against Williamsville before taking a 5-4 defeat in overtime. 
9. They had quite a Section III boys bowling tournament at Utica’s Pin-O-Rama. Liverpool won the Division I and Class A team titles, holding off host Utica Proctor by just 20 pins after six games and hundreds of shots, while it was fairly close in the Division II race, too, with VVS moving to the top spot by 96 pins over Homer and Waterville was the Class C/D champions. Even the individual tournament produced a rare tie as Liverpool’s Brandon Davis and ESM’s Sean Timmons both shot 1,389 for six games. The individual sectional boys and girls shootout takes place this week at Rome’s King Pin Lanes, with top finishers advancing to the state tournament in March at Strike-N-Spare Lanes. 
10. This Thursday, the Section III boys swimming tournaments take place at Nottingham, with Class A, B, and C team titles decided, before Saturday’s state qualifier decides the George Falwell Cup. Also, in girls volleyball sectional semifinals are set, with unbeaten New Hartford facing ESM in Class A as Carthage challenges Whitesboro, unbeaten Chittenango against Oneida in Class B as Canastota faces South Jefferson, Class C featuring yet another undefeated side, Mount Markham, facing Beaver River as Onondaga is up against Sandy Creek, and finally Class D has Old Forge against DeRuyter and Morrisville-Eaton against Stockbridge Valley. All of the finals are Saturday at Chittenango. 

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