Here are the top 10 topics for the January 5 edition of the Inside High School Sports show.
1. Now there’s no avoiding how important next Tuesday night’s boys basketball game between West Genesee and Corcoran has become. Entering the new year, both teams are undefeated – the Wildcats 9-0, the Cougars 8-0. And both impressed during the holiday tournament slate as West Genesee rallied from 18 down to beat Shenendehowa in overtime a day after outlasting Rome Free Academy, while Corcoran went to Troy’s tournament and beat the Flying Horses, plus Bishop Timon from Buffalo. No one else is close to the Wildcats and Cougars, record-wise, and Tuesday’s game at Corcoran is the first of two regular-season showdowns, with the other coming in Camillus a month from now.
2. There’s also undefeated boys basketball teams in the Class A and B ranks heading into 2019. You have J-D and Central Square without a defeat in the Class A ranks, the Redhawks having already withstood a challenge from ESM late in December and the Red Rams getting its own game against the Spartans on Friday night. Whitesboro and Bishop Grimes are also making impressive runs among the Class A contenders. Then, in Class B, Skaneateles has roared out 9-0, though seven of those games were played at home and, starting next week, the Lakers have key tests against two surprise Class B contenders, Mexico and Solvay, while Lowville also has not lost, emerging as the best Frontier League side.
3. Cooperstown is the highest-ranked Section III boys basketball team in the various state polls, all the way up to no. 2 in Class C and 10-0 after December, with Utica Academy of Science right behind them at 10-1, the Atoms’ lone blemish a defeat to the Hawkeyes early this season. Weedsport has defeated every Class C team it’s faced, it lone loss a competitive one to Class B Skaneateles. Before they hit the holiday tournament slate, three Class D teams were in the state top eight, with DeRuyter at no. 5, Lyme at no. 7 and McGraw at no. 8, though Tom Blackford’s Hamilton side might be better than all of them, racing out 7-1 before a Class B team, Canastota, beat them on December 28.
4. Holiday tournaments did little to change the girls basketball pecking order among the large schools because they all struggled, to one degree or another. West Genesee was rolling until a lopsided defeat to Shenendehowa in the Amsterdam Tournament, where C-NS beat Bethlehem, but lost to Amherst after going 1-2 against tough competition in a tournament at the Disney World complex. At least Baldwinsville went 2-1 in a tournament in Virginia without injured guard Katie Pascale and Nottingham got a quality win over Westhill. J-D also lost to Shenendehowa just before Christmas, and among the Class A challengers, Bishop Ludden finished third at its own tournament, losing to St. Mary’s from Lancaster.
5. It’s really difficult to tell who is the Class B girls basketball favorite at this point, but Oneida had the best finish to 2018, knocking off previously unbeaten VVS and then claiming Chittenango’s holiday tournament while Syracuse Academy of Science also moved up with impressive wins over the likes of Bishop Grimes and Liverpool. With its 10-0 tear through December, Weedsport ascended all the way to no. 3 in the state Class C rankings, though there’s no shortage of good sides here, whether it’s Thousand Islands up north or Little Falls and Sauquoit Valley in the Center State Conference. Finally, Copenhagen is no. 5 and Madison no. 6 in the state Class D rankings, with LaFargeville also in the top 10.
6. When high school ice hockey hit the holiday break, it did so with Syracuse in front of the Division I pack. The Cougars won eight consecutive games before Rochester McQuaid tied them 6-6 in a wild one on December 21, but the two have a rematch this week in Rochester. Meanwhile, West Genesee has won seven straight following an 0-3 start and has reached the top 10 of the state rankings as Syracuse sits at no. 3. F-M had an impressive showing by defeating Clinton 2-0 in the finals of the Warriors’ own tournament. And while Baldwinsville has gone up and down following a quick start, the Bees’ 15-1 romp over Mohawk Valley on December 29 gave long-time head coach Mark Lloyd his 400th career victory.
7. Moving to Division II ice hockey, it’s been Skaneateles atop the state Division II rankings all three weeks. Even a 1-0 loss to Syracuse did not drop the Lakers from the top of that poll, and Skaneateles hosts its Duke Schneider Memorial Tournament this weekend, playing Pelham as Baldwinsville faces Williamsville South. Cortland-Homer sits at no. 3 in those same state rankings and just had a dominant victory at its own holiday tournament, scoring 22 goals in wins over Ontario Bay and Ballston Spa. In girls ice hockey, Skaneateles won six straight games before a 3-2 defeat to Malone in mid-December. Ithaca is a Section III contender, too, having improved to 4-1-1 with holiday tournament wins.
8. A lot happened in wrestling during the holiday break. Fulton nearly won the massive Kenneth Haines Memorial Tournament at Oswego State, a few points behind Niagara-Wheatfield, while Central Valley Academy, ranked no. 2 in the state among Small Schools, went 6-2 in the Mountain Duals at Dolgeville, topped only by state no. 3-ranked Large School Hilton, who beat Hilton 46-30 late in December. Indian River finished seventh in a loaded field at the Windsor Christmas Tournament. More tournaments take place on the first Saturday of 2019, whether it’s the Fallen Heroes Tournament at Canastota or the Port Byron Mid-Winter Invitational, with plenty of rivalry matches beforehand.
9. Just before the holidays, there was more indoor track and field activity. At the third Mohawk Valley ITA meet of the season at Utica College on December 21, Liverpool stepped in and won both the boys and girls divisions. Another sweep took place in the morning session of the December 22 George Constantino Memorial Invitational at SRC Arena, with C-NS pulling away in the boys and girls divisions for a third straight win. It was a little different in the afternoon session, though, with F-M again riding its strong group of distance runners to a girls title, while Baldwinsville, second in the girls division, went to the top of the boys division, leaving the Hornets to settle for second place.
10. The New York State Federation of Secondary School Athletic Association is moving its late-March championship basketball tournament to Fordham University in the Bronx 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. Starting in 2020 the state softball championships are likely to move to Long Island, with the promise of playing games on all-weather fields, day and night, a step up from the Moreau complex in South Glens Falls that again hosts the state tournament this June.