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Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2012: Albany awarded new Federation basketball deal

   Leading off today: Times Union Center has landed its second consecutive three-year contract to host the Federation basketball tournament, keeping the season-ending tournament there through at least 2016.

   The New York State Federation of Secondary School Athletic Associations announced Wednesday that Albany won out over previous host Glens Falls, the only other group to make a bid, in a 4-0 vote by representatives of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, the New York State Association of Independent Schools Athletic Association, the Catholic High School Athletic Association and the New York City Public Schools Athletic League.

   "It was the impression of the executive committee members that attended the tournament at the Times Union Center that the atmosphere and the championship nature of the venue lends itself to an ideal situation for high school kids," NYSFSSAA Executive Secretary Walter Eaton told The Times Union.

   My take: I'm possibly not in the minority when I argue that the Federation tournament belongs much further south than Albany, given the fact that in many years no school within 100 miles of Albany (or Glens Falls, previously) qualifies to compete in te three boys and three girls classes.

   The tournament is so heavily stacked with teams from New York City and other downstate locales that it belongs in a college arena somewhere between, say, Hofstra and Marist.

   But critics -- myself included -- will have to stand down for another three years. Bottom line is that the committee cannot award the tournament to someone who doesn't make a presentation seeking to land the event.

   Girls basketball: Holland Patent opened the second half on a 20-4 run and went on to a 40-27 girls basketball victory over Little Falls on Tuesday.

   Holland Patent is ranked 16th in Class B and Little Falls second in Class C in the latest NYSSWA ratings.

   Allyson Freiermuth led the way with 20 points, 17 rebounds and three blocked shots as the Golden Knights won for the fifth straight time at Little Falls.

   “They took us right out of what we were doing,” coach Pam Munger told the Little Falls Times after seeing her team's 14-game regular-season winning streak ended. “We weren’t able to do anything offensively.”

   In another noteworthy Section 3 game, Oneida scored a 42-36 upset of Utica Notre Dame, ranked 12th in Class B. Notre Dame was playing without forward Emily Durr (ankle injury), a second-team all-state selection last season.

   Notre Dame led 10-0 after one quarter, but Oneida held a 32-13 scoring advantage in the middle two quarters.

   Jenna Didio led the winners with 16 points.

   Joining the trend: The Oneida Daily Dispatch will cut back its publishing schedule to just three days a week beginning Feb. 3, parent company Digital First Media announced Wednesday.

   The paper will begin publishing a Sunday edition on Feb. 3, and will continue to publish Tuesday and Thursday newspapers. Free access to; tablet, iPhone and Android mobile apps; and the e-paper replica edition will be provided to all subscribers. The website will remain free and accessible to all users, the company said.

   “Changes in the marketplace have allowed us to accelerate our transition to a more comprehensive, multi-platform offering,” Jan Dewey, Digital First Media’s New York publisher, said in a statement released by the company. "The Oneida Daily Dispatch is expanding our digital platforms including our new mobile and tablet applications as well as expanded website content. We know this is where our readers are and we know this is where our future is.”

   Last year, The Post-Standard in Syracuse announced it would cut back home delivery to three days a week and distribute a limited number of smaller editions to Onondaga County newsstands beginning next month. The newsstand-only editions could disappear at the end of 2013, executives said at the time of that announcement.

   A close call: The Buffalo News had a nice story last week about a near-tragedy that turned out well this month.

   James Martek, 54, was officiating a girls basketball game between Mount Mercy Academy and Christian Central Academy on Jan. 4 when he collapsed on the court during the first quarter after his heart stopped.

   Athletic trainer Melissa Hudecki, who was assigned to the game, raced into action by running to midcourt to perform CPR and use an Automatic Electronic Defibrillator until firefighters arrived.

   The two, who had seen each other at games from time

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to time over the past decade, were reunited six days later at Mercy Hospital.

   “If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be here. This is special,” he told her. “I've got tears in my eyes.”

   Dr. Robbie D. Wall, a cardiologist who treated Martek, said time was vital for Martek, who suffered from an arrhythmia.

   “The early resuscitation he received from Melissa, as well as the firefighters, really saved his life,” Wall said. “We know that the death rate associated with what Mr. Martek had is very high. Only less than 5 percent of people actually live.”

   Martek, also a football and lacrosse referee, said he has worked his last game, though he wants to make one more appearance on a basketball court.

   “What I'd really like to do,” he said, “is apologize to all of the players for scaring the hell out of them.”

   National recognition: State Class B football co-player of the year Nick Sorrenti has picked up a national honor, earning a spot on the second unit of the MaxPreps Small Schools All-American Team.

   The 6-foot-1 linebacker/running back was selected on the defensive side of the ball after helping Maine-Endwell to its second straight NYSPHSAA championship.

   He shared state player of the year honors with teammate Jake Haddock two weeks ago.

   Waiting game: Malique Belfort appears to have a future in football despite the abrupt ending to the 2012 season for the Tottenville senior. The 6-foot-4 receiver told The New York Daily News he's holding scholarship offers from Arizona, Boise State, Maryland and Mississippi, and other possible suitors include Florida State and Tennessee.

   Tottenville officials never specified why Belfort and running back prospect Augustus Edwards were not active for the PSAL postseason, but principal John Tuminaro told the paper in November that the suspensions “may” have been connected to the investigation into the death of student Felicia Garcia, 15, who took her own life Oct. 24 by jumping in front of an oncoming train.

   Police sources said Garcia was teased by classmates about an alleged sexual encounter with multiple football players. No one has been charged, and Belfort refused to say much about his absence from the playoffs beyond that period was “the roughest time of my life.”

   “Not being able to play for my team was extremely rough on me,” Belfort said. “Not being able to help my team in the championship game was very tough. But I believe everything happens for a reason and I’m just looking forward to moving on and looking forward to playing in college and making better decisions in life.”

   Belfort's college decision may go right down to the wire, but his 38 receptions and seven TD catches last fall assure he'll have options.

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