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Double trouble: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake defends its ASC crown
   (June 30, 2010) -- A football coach rotates a new running back into the backfield late in the second quarter to keep the starter's legs fresh.

   A basketball coach brings in his sixth man late in the first quarter to keep a starter from picking up his third foul.

   A lacrosse coach runs the faceoff specialist back onto the field as a long stick to clamp down on the opposition's high-scoring midfielder.

   And when Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake's defending state championship team gets edged out of returning to the NYSPHSAA girls cross country meet despite being one of the strongest squads in New York, Bob McGuire just plugs his girls soccer team into the equation.

   In all cases it's called "depth," and the latter case goes a long way toward explaining how Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake has won the overall NYSSWA All-Sport Championship for the second consecutive year. The New York State Sportswriters Association announced the results of its second annual ASC competition this morning.

   Burnt Hills scored 45.17 points to edge North Rockland (42.5) and Honeoye Falls-Lima (42) for overall honors in the combined boys and girls scoring covering 27 sports from the just-completed school year. Others defending their championships were Maple Grove (combined Class D scoring), Jamesville-Dewitt (boys Class A), Maple Grove (boys Class D) and Rhinebeck (girls Class C).

   The Burnt Hills formula for success was remarkably similar to a year ago. Once again, the Spartans won a New York State Public High School Athletic Association boys cross country championship, reached the finals in football and fell one spot short of a berth in the girls state volleyball finals to account for 33 points in the ASC standings.

   But whereas the Burnt Hills girls earned the state Class A cross country championship in 2008, they were beaten in last November's Section 2 meet by Queensbury. Burnt Hills qualified four individuals for the state meet and all placed in the top 20 while Queensbury won the team title.

   "We were the second-best (Class A) team in the state," said McGuire, who's been the Spartans' athletic director for 14 years.

   Having to make up first-place points in the All-Sport Championship standings would be implausible for most schools, but not Burnt Hills. The Spartans picked up 2.5 points from its Section 2 championship team in boys basketball and 2.67 based on its finish in the boys track meet this month. And in the fall, the girls soccer team won sectionals and reached the state semifinals for another 7 points.

   Mission accomplished.

   In all, Burnt Hills won won 10 Section 2 championships in the 2009-10 school year and placed second in five other sports. And McGuire's program, which he says is fueled by the work and enthusiam of the coaches, has a double-barreled leg up on the competition when the bid for a three-peat begins this fall:

   (1) Boys volleyball will conduct its first NYSPHSAA championship in November, qualifying it as a scoring sport in the All-Sport Championship standings. Burnt Hills won a five-section regional in the sport two years ago and placed third last November.

   (2) "We didn't graduate a lot of (key) seniors this month, so there's a lot coming back," McGuire said.

   And the pipeline remains full. Like many districts across New York, Burnt Hills has trimmed its interscholastic sports budget considerably recently (about 30 percent over the last two years), but the youth and recreational programs remain robust in the community. The Junior Spartans programs, which typically start between third and sixth grade, have more than 5,000 participants each year, keeping McGuire and Kevin Fitzpatrick busy scheduling gym and field time for the many leagues.

   On the plus side for the competition in the upcoming third edition of the All-Sport Championship, the very successful Burnt Hills rowing program and rugby team are club sports for which there are no NYSPHSAA championships -- and hence no ASC points.


NYSSWA All-Sport Championship
  MAIN  |  2009-10 top overall schools
  Class-by-class boys  |  Class-by-class girls
  More about the NYSSWA All-Sport Championship
  Last year's ASC Championship site

Misc. housekeeping

  • We very nearly had a major controversy that we could have (and should have) resolved before the just-concluded school year began, so we are fixing it now to prevent a bigger problem in the future regarding Long Island's football playoffs.

       We've not counted the Sec. 8 vs. 11 football playoffs in the past because they are not part of the NYSPHSAA tournament. The decision made no difference in 2009, but did prevent Garden City from finishing higher in this year's Class A combined scoring.

       In light of the fact we now have two years of actual experience (plus a dry run in 2008), we will award points to the L.I. intersectional champs beginning next fall to reflect that those schools and athletes play what nearly amounts to a NYSPHSAA quarterfinal each November without being acknowledged.

       The four bowl winners will receive 7 points -- the same as a losing NYSPHSAA semifinalist. However, L.I. classes do not conform to the NYSPHSAA tournament, which means Garden City and Seaford would have split the 7 points for Class A this year, while Half Hollow Hills West and Freeport would have split the Class AA points.

  • Just as we have the power to award points in this NYSSWA competition, we also have the ability to take them away. And I have identified just the type of situation the deserves such action.

       For at least the last three years, the Class D softball tournament has required two sectional champions to conduct a play-in game for a spot in the quarterfinals while at the same time awarding the Section 9 champion a bye directly into the NYSPHSAA semifinals.

       That same scheduling was employed this year in girls basketball, and it's grossly unfair both in terms of the All-Sport Championship as well as the integrity of the actual state tournament. Going forward, any school receiving a bye into the semifinals at the same time that there is a quarterfinal play-in game required somewhere else in the bracket will only receive the same point total as a losing quarterfinalist unless they win at least one game.

  • Now that the L.I. football issue has been resolved (I hope), there's another philosophical issue to tackle: How to handle private and Catholic schools in the scoring, particularly with respect to enrollment.

       The competition rule these first two years has been that schools are placed into classes based soley on their BEDS figure for grades 9-11 and without regard for the fact that they may play in higher classes in some sports either by choice or by section mandate.

       This year, it meant that Albany CBA was able to break into the boys Class B top five even though the school competes in Class AA or A. In fact, CBA earned all of its points this year with a championship in the Class AA basketball tournament.

       Is it time to give the private schools their own division in the All-Sport Championships competition? Is there a better answer? Feel free to send your suggestions.

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